Oh Thirfty Tarts!

Saturday 29 December 2012

After Christmas Use Up Everything (well nearly) in ..


A Tempting Tart!

After all those Christmas treats, gorgeous cheese boards, Italian delights (pestos, olives etc) it is time to be a bit Thrifty and clear out those fridges and have some puff pastry tarts. Buy a block of puff pastry from the local supermarket (cost £1) and roll out. I made 5 tray tarts, roll it as thinly as possible as it rises and you want the crisp base with a doughy middle.
I made a lovely mozzarella, tomato and pesto tart which cleared up some of the Christmas day goodies plus a squash and apple wood cheese tart to name just a few.
We comfortingly had our with peas, jackets and lashings of gravy. Just the thing for a cosy night low cost night in between Christmas and New Year.. Enjoy!


My Creative Christmas Family

Friday 28 December 2012

 I love homemade gifts...

..so tonight's post is a thank-you for some gifts made by love by my caring family!

I am really am blessed to have some talented people around my new little family. Here are some of the lovely homemade Christmas gifts we received on Tuesday. So tonight I am having a break and showcasing my family and some beautiful gifts, given with love.

Homemade Chutney

Made by Great Aunty Celia

Aunty Celia makes us chutney every year and it is mild enough for baby L to have for tea with her cheese sandwiches. We love chutney and I use it on everything sandwiches, toast and a spoonful in a curry always goes down well.

Crochet Baby Gifts

Made by Aunty Hazel

Baby L has some handcrafted crocheted knits for Christmas from Aunty Hazel, a pinafore and a jumper with crochet flowers and over sized buttons. I took a few pictures as I cannot wait to get baby L dressed up in theses handmade unique pieces. As they are winter colours we can team them up with tights and colourful bodies. So very cute...

Nordic Style Felt Bird Hanger

Made by Nana

For baby L, she has this beautiful Nordic style felt bird hanger. Each felt bird was stitched and embellished with beads and sequins in orange and pinks. It has a little bell on the end so we have attached it to her door so it rings each time you go into her room.

Homemade Christmas Cakes

Made by Grandma Cynthia 

Some handmade Christmas cakes were made and iced by my Mum as Christmas gifts. They were so light and a great idea, you never eat all the cake and these are kept really fresh. We have been eating our way through them and they stack in the cupboard. At Christmas time the cupboards are always full.


Party Dress

Handmade by Grandma Cynthia

I haven't been able to make some beautiful handmade dresses for baby L this Autumn due to my other crafty ventures and job hunting / interviews etc. So while I was busy looking to get back in the job market as a new Mum, my Mum helped out making a new dresses. This one was a surprise for Christmas day which she kept very quiet from me and I am sure that baby L will spend many happy times in this dress.

Spring Bulbs

Handmade by Aunty Melissa

How lovely, a pot of spring  bulbs wrapped in Christmas ribbon and decorated with small stones . In a few weeks we will have a show of Spring bulbs in our kitchen window to remind us that spring is just around the corner.

Post Boxing Day Curry

Thursday 27 December 2012

When the relatives have gone home and you still have a fridge full of bowls and old veggies... 

..make a curry!

For me, Christmas was very special as I made my first Christmas day lunch, but with seven people for dinner the thought of running out horrified me. I didn't go crazy but made sure we had enough plus a bit more.
So this afternoon, I set about making a glut of curry bases to chill or freeze with what I had left. The spices in the cabbage and the sweetness in the onions was perfect. I started by sweating an onion , then adding the red spiced cabbage, red onions, parsnips and carrots. Reducing the heat, I covered the vegetables with boiling water and added a stock cube. after half an hour when the veggies were soft I blended the mixture. Then filled three boxes with the mixture to make curries in future weeks.
For tonight's dinner, I took four large spoons of the mixture and left it on one side whilst I sweated a white onion, added a yellow pepper, a roasted sweet potato and some mushrooms. To the pan I addded ground ginger and garlic powder and the curry base mixture. Cooking low for about ten minutues the spices infused the freshly cooked vegetables until the curry looked rich.

The rest will be chilled and frozen and I now have an empty (ier) fridge. A bargain dinner for post boxing day.

Our 2012 Christmas

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Our family Christmas with a homemade touch...

After a busy few days of preparing for Christmas day I managed to host my first Christmas Day.
***my Internet connection went down so blog post lost half way thru!! update tomorrow***
So over the 12 days leading up to Christmas day I crafted my way through presents and treats and the odd decoration for the tree. This was my first Christmas dinner and with a 13 month old I was a little nervous of getting food from kitchen to table without a nappy stop or a teething moment!

I really put everything into the preparation, on Christmas Eve we had a tagine which freed up some of my time to make the veggie option. With a visit to Church for the annual Christingle service to go to I didn't want to feel stressed and not enjoy what the children had spent months rehearsing.
After Christmas Eve's tagine with couscous (bit festive with fruits and spices) I set to with my helpers to get all our vegetables chopped and in water ready for the next day. I even had enough time to make a handmade card for our kitty crazy toddler. That is real preparation on the food front.
I made our Italian Christmas cake a few days before and on Christmas morning whisked up some eggs,cream  and vanilla, sliced up the cake and layered it all in a oven proof dish with morello cherries and covered in brown sugar. Not too heavy for a pud.

For our Christmas lunch vegetables, I did roasted potatoes of courses and a new dish of roasted red onions with pomegranates seeds and basil. The fruits really lifted the palette and were a delight. I always do too much red cabbage! Braised in cinnamon and balsamic vinegar the cabbage really added some punch and colour.

The veggie option was a stuff roasted squash, stuffed with chestnut and walnut roast and the fish option was salmon with lemon and martini glaze (little sweet and bitter at the same time).


Crafty For Christmas! 6 days to go

Tuesday 18 December 2012

As Us Mum's Get Busier Leading Up To Christmas ...


here are some quick ideas to make a lovely crafty festive time...

I just love this time of year now that I have a little one year old running around. Yes, some days are tough but she is so rewarding. Being a full time Mummy for the time being is lovely but tiring. Sunday afternoon Mr S looked after baby as I needed some sleep and catch up on some rest as I was getting runned down. Feeling so much better now and ready to get ready for Christmas time..Mums need energy at this time of year and sometimes being looked after too!

So as baby sleeps as we have been Christmas shopping, here are a few things that I have been up to on my sister site of my own name ... http://samanthaschofield.blogspot.co.uk/

With the countdown to Christmas in full swing, here is what has been going on...

Handmade Christmas Stockings are such a delight to make and so easy even if you are a beginner.Baby has this one on her cot.

Stamped Christmas wrap was something that baby and I could do together, she stamped and then wanted the whole set but it was fun for both of us to do. I will save a bit for her scrapbook.

Christmas Greetings cards was a friday night project as Mr S was out working late so I made the most of my time alone.

Christmas Bulbs have been planted and ready to be given as gifts.
Mince pies were made last week and yes I need to make more. The butter is out on the side as I write to make some more.

This is one of my favourites from this year  2012 Union jack card

Hand Printed Christmas Wrap

Sunday 16 December 2012

 If you are feeling a bit crafty with your wrapping.....

... try stamping you own!


If you want to make your wrapping personal and unique why not try stamping your own with a few stamps bought on the high street and some brown paper from the Post Office?

 I really like the rustic look you get with hand printing and it doesn't matter if you get a bit of ink on your paper. Be proud that you spent the time doing it yourself so your presents look personalised!
 This year NEXT had some great stamps and they are all on 3 for 2. The paint was bought from Hobbycraft and a 1.5m square paper took about 15 mins to do.

I love the effects you get. Try taking a paint brush on the ink pad and dry brushing over the paper for a shimmer of colour or why not add a dash of gold paint here and there? Be creative!

Bath Bombe Treats

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Raid Your Kitchen Cupboards...

Get Ready To Make Something Bath time Treats...

makes 12 mini heart bombes

I just love these gorgeous heart shaped bombes, make sure you oil up your moulds and let them set for 24 hours of more. They will break off a little when you get them out the moulds so don't be alarmed, the heavier you press then mixture into the moulds the better the shape when you press them out.

You Will Need  -

115 grams bicarbonate of soda
100 grams citric acid granules
50 grams cornflower
2 teaspoons lavender essential oil
1 teaspoon lavender dried flowers
Handful of rose petals
1 teaspoon of almond oil
Set of ice cube rubber moulds
Almond oil to grease out the moulds

Go Create!

1. Mix the bicarbonate of soda, citric acid granules and cornflower in a bowl.
2. Add the petals and dried flowers to the mix
3. Then add the essential oil and almond oil drop by drop so that the mixture comes together like wet sand. If you think it needs more oil mould it in your hands, if it sticks then this is the right consistency.
4. Press the mixture into the moulds and leave to set for 24 hours.
5. Put out the mini bombes and leave to dry for another day before placing in paper bags for gifts.

To make one big bombe!

You will need the same ingredients as above but 6 food bags and tin foil.
1. Follow the heart bombe recipe until stage 4, then mould the mixture in your hands like a snow ball.
2. Place the ball in a food bag and mould really tight into a ball through the plastic.
3. Wrap tightly in the foil and leave for 24 hours.

Once dry unwrap and they are ready to use!

I really hope you enjoy making these bombes as much as I did.

Christmas bath time treats..

Monday 10 December 2012

All it took was some gorgeous oils and butters and dried summer flowers..


and here are some quick bath time treats, perfect stocking fillers.

With the whole vintage and make do and mend culture has come the trend for making your own soaps and bath time treats - creams, fizzes and melts. I have no idea how easy it was until I was given a book on making your own last Christmas and yes, it is so easy.

The basics for the creamers really to is to melt you cocoa butters and shea butters into a gorgeous runny oil, add essential oils and a few petals and pour into cake cases. How easy is that? I decided to make these cream buttons by pouring less liquid into the cases so that they looked like white chocolate buttons and then once set, peeled off the cake cases and stack in little acetate bags. Easy gifting.  The set up cost was about £20 so really aim to make 20 things to recoup your money.
Twenty bath creamers and you are in gift profit.

If you have some roses just about to turn, pop them in the airing cupboard for a few days to dry out and add them to your oils just before pouring. I use one to test before I give them away (well that is my excuse!) and your bath is just one big pool of goodness ready to give your skin a good old condition. If like me, you are on your feet all day chasing around after a baby you will appreciate what I am saying.
Go onto a soap ordering site and they will help you order your oils to the right amount for how many you want to make. Enjoy!

Baby scarf bib

Thursday 6 December 2012

Once you have the basics right you can hand stitch, add ribbons or even use fabric paints to funk up your baby's dribble bib...

  I started to make this bib up as a Christmas bib then I thought what a shame to have to throw it out on three weeks time.

A very fast sewing project and great fun adding the end hand stitching to make it personal to your baby.

You Will Need  -

12" square jersey fabric
12" terry towelling
Sewing thread
Press Studs (hammer in 2 piece versions from Prym )

Go Create!

1. Take your Jersey and terry fabric and cut your fabric into a triangle.
2. Place right sides together and stitch around the triangle all but 3 inches to turn.
3. Turn the bib and press flat.
4. Slip stitch the opening in the bib
5. Add the press studs. hammering into place to that the press stud clips together as picture.
6. Embellish how you like - embroider, paint, trim - add your baby's personal touch to her dribble bib.

Chocolate & Raisin Marble Cake

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Not too sweet and a muffin-esque texture - light and fruity with a swirl of chocolate loveliness...

Sometimes a mistake in the kitchen can turn into a great cake!

I was busy on a Sunday making dinner whilst feeding baby and making a cake, just another day. Daddy came into to chat to me and suddenly I had weighed out too much flour! Anyway I rescued the cake with and made this muffin style raisin and chocolate marble cake covered in dark chocolate. Make a batch too, makes 24 slices.

You Will Need -

250 grams butter
250 grams caster sugar
4 eggs 
250 grams self raising flour
50 grams cocoa
1 cup raisins
1 pinch baking powder
4 tablespoons of whole milk
100 grams of plain chocolate

2 cake sheets greased or lined with grease proof

Go Create!

Turn on the oven at 180 C to similar.

1. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add the eggs one by one and beat thoroughly.
3. Stir in the raisins.
4. Sieve the flour, baking powder and cocoa together and add by folding into the mixture.
5. Add the milk to stir in, your mixture should be fluffy and hold it's shape if spooned from the bowl.
6. Pour into the cake sheets and even off the top.
7. Cook for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Then leave to cool for 5 minutes and take out the tin and transfer to a cooling rack.
8. When the cake has cooled down, melt the chocolate either in the microwave or in a bowl in a pan of boiling water. Pour over the cake and leave to set.

This cake is rich but not too sweet with the cocoa giving it a bitterness and the raisins added a fruity addition.

A Creative Home..

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Your home should be filled with what you create ..

Whatever your craft, pottery, stitching or painting to name a few..let your art be around you in your home. As they say an Englishman's house is his castle and yes my house is my pride and joy. With a new baby brings the frustration of getting the decorating done. Looking at the paintwork whilst tied up with baby really grated on me, especially if you painted the wall yourself then saw you had missed a bit!

As we had only moved into our new home less than a year before baby turned up, it was one big push but now I look back and are proud we got on with it with bump in the way!

Here are a few of my gems that I just love and want to share with you ...

I just love to stitch, with a baby I have  not had to time but modern designs on old fashioned fabrics areally mix old and new. Search cross stitch in your search engine to find the best value stitching kits or charts, join a group to help you get started and off you go! I also love making candles and find odd cups etc at local pottery sale shops, melt your wax add a wick and a bespoke candle is yours!

I took pottery classes to look at 3D structure in craft, pottery isn't boring or just pots, you can coil or slab a pot together and give it a home-made organic twist. It is easier to take a class then do it at home but just look at what you can do with a few hours in the studio one evening per week?

I had to include my pin box, it has been with me from a child and always full of bits, especially with a baby I don't leave a pin anywhere. But my sewing has not only saved us a fortune but also created one off pieces in our home making it bespoke and so homely to come back to. Home sweet home

Autumn Soups

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Soup is warming and comforting and so easy to prep..

Mm mm, tonight I have been busy in the kitchen preparing my mushroom and parsnip soup for tomorrow's supper. Why the night before, well it is easier to cook now and leave in the fridge to chill until I am ready to blend and finally season...

Soups are so easy when you are a busy Mum. The formula is pretty much the same every time. Take your vegetables, make up the stock to cover the vegetables and cook slowly for 40 minutes then blend.

My soups are either creamy or tomato based. Then I make them seasonal and then add the herbs and spices. The secret is to keep it very simple. All my soups are onion and potato based. If I don't have potatoes I'll add another root vegetable to make the soup nice and thick especially for these cold days!

Here are a few of my favourites -

Cream of broccoli - A potato based soup with broccoli and oregano and creme fraiche. Make it thick and add the creme faiche at the end.

Mushroom and parsnip - The mushrooms add flavour and the parsnip is sweet. Add thyme from the freezer or garden at the end.

Italian kitchen soup - Add passatta and small pasta to finelly chopped seasonal vegetables. Add basil and fresh cream not forgetting a touch of chilli!


Mushroom Lasagne -perfect family lunch

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Mushroom & Gorgonzola Lasagne ..

prep the night before for a great family lunch!

Some days you want to prep lunch the night before so that you can enjoy time with the family.

I am doing this at the moment. Tomorrow Baby has a group to go to and Daddy is not working until 2 pm. So a family lunch is very important to us... but when is it prepared? Answer, the night before and yes it will stay fresh in the fridge for tomorrow...

You Will Need -

9 sheets of lasagne Verdi (the pre cooked version)
12 mushrooms washed and chopped
1 garlic clove chopped
2 tomatoes
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1/4 pint milk
1 tablespoon cornflower
250grams cheddar cheese
100grams Gorgonzola cheese
1 yellow pepper
1 leek
1 red onion
Dried basil (2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Walnut oil to saute

Let's Create!

1. Saute the onion, chopped pepper and diced leeks together in a little oil.
2. Add the mushrooms and basil and cook until tender.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and cook.
4. Layer up the lasagne with the tomato mix making sure that on each layer the lasagne sheets are layered a different way. You don't want to be the person with the double thick bit in your portion!
5. Make the sauce by adding a little water to the cornflower to make a paste. Then bring the milk to the boil and add in the cornflower paste. Stir in and take off the heat.
6. Add the cheese to the sauce and stir until it is melted through.
7. Pour the cheese sauce over the  lasagne sheets and slice the tomato on the top.

This is ready to be chilled until needed. I kept mine in the fridge over night and then cooked for 35 minutes at 175C.

Enjoyed by all with warmed garlic butter breads and salad.


Thou Shall Not Hoard

Thursday 15 November 2012

OK ,when does collecting for crafting become hoarding?

..I have a baby so when do my projects get finished!

Tonight, I decided that I needed to have a good sort out in my crafting room. With a young baby, it is easy to go and see an idea for a project online or in a book, go and buy the crafting items and then ..leave it !

I have always been an organised crafter, before baby came along. A little messy if you ask Mr S but yes I have have organised the sewing from the quilting, catalogued all the sewing patterns by date and even labelled up my papers for card making. Now I am a Mum everything is everywhere and I is starting to stress me out!

I googled Hoarding  and found that it is obsessive and compulsive. Oh dear me! I think just putting a start to the end of my hoarding crafting habits is a step in the right direction. So here is a little bit of organising and I aim to stick to it...bet Martha never has this problem?

Quick Fixes

  • Finish anything that takes less than one hour. Make a list and stick to it.
  • Throw away any extra packaging in the craft room.
  • Make a list of what you need to finish projects and only buy these from the craft store. Walk in and walk out with what is on the list.
  • Organise a section every few days, so that you can throw away anything that no longer is needed. Craft stuff can look old and dated so throw or better still freecycle or give in a charity bag.
  • Organise craft swaps, someone might want what you don't.
  • Be ruthless.

So with this in mind, I finally hemmed my jeans, both pairs..hey one down!!!

My hoarding days will turn around soon, I hope. The problem now is with programmes like Kirstie's Vintage Home I have a garage of old furniture finds to do some magic with!

Vintage Style Luggage Tag Card

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Easy Vintage Style Luggage Tag Card


There are times when you something in inspires you from out of nowhere? Recently, I went on a trip on a old steam train and the old suitcases at the railway station inspired me to recreate this vintage luggage tag card.

Really easy to make and the letters to rub on can be bought from any stationery or craft shop.


You Will Need  -

1  luggage tag (I bought mine from the post office)
1 cream card to fit
20cm cream organza ribbon
Flower wallpaper swatch (your local DIY stores are great for samples)
Crafting glue
1 gold pen
Sequins (about 5)
Letraset or other self rub off black lettering

Go Create!

1. Cut a piece of your wallpaper flower out and stick it to your luggage tag.
2. Take your gold pen and highlight part of your flower or leaves.
3. Stick onto your cream card.
4. When dry rub on your Letraset text onto your tag. I made sure the letters would fit first by measuring up the space and letters. Simply place the Letraset on the card and gently rub until the letter is off the front paper.
5. Take your sequins and stick onto the card and tag to make the card balanced.
6. Add your ribbon to the card.

Simple little card and inspired by a day at an old fashioned railway!

If you are interested in the Italian quilting project also on the picture just get in touch?

hand painted baby boy canvas

Friday 9 November 2012

I know that I have blogged about homemade canvases before...

but they are so personal and only take a few paints, paper and an hour to do!

You Will Need -

Watercolour paper
Watercolour fine brushes and one fat bristled brush
Soft B grade pencils
Watercolour paint
Water and glass
Saucer, tissue and greaseproof plus cling film to cover/fit the saucer

Design resource to be inspired from!

Go Create!

Stretch Your Paper..
First of all stretch your paper, take your watercolour paper and tape one side down, then with tap water lightly brush over the paper and then tape down the opposite side. This is called stretching your paper and means that you don't get puckering on the finished design.

Prep Your Paint..
Then prepare your paint tray, take a saucer and line with a damp tissue and add a piece of greaseproof on top. You will put your paint on the greaseproof when painting. If you need to stop for any reason cover your paints with a piece of cling film and your paint won't dry out! I have used this technique for years and it is fab (also saved me a fortune!)

Start To Draw..
I then take the letters and cut them out then trace around them on a paper, I download mine off the Internet or get the styles out of books.

Once you have your styled letters then draw around each letter a few shapes, on this one I used aeroplanes and racing cars. Give your design some sort of theme. I tend us use a soft pencil such as 2B and a rubber for mistakes.
Start To Paint...
Then we can start to paint, I get a palette of maybe 3 colours and take it from there. This design uses a retro brown to create an old fashion theme, but I have used some pastel colours for a summer birthday. Maybe add gold to a Christmas birthday?

Mix your paints up and only use a little as watercolour can go a long, long way!

Add some personal touches, such as celebration, theme, date and don't forget to sign it!

Also see my other post ..