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 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 ..

Herby the freezer!

Getting ready for fresh herbs through the winter...

This year I planted a herb garden, just over a year after moving in to our new house. I tried to live with herb pots at the back door but after seeing my Uncle using herbs as beautiful shrubs, I was up for the challenge!
So, this year I am getting a well established herb garden with thyme, sage, parsley, chives just to name a few! Oh and Lemon Balm (Melissa) which always takes over!
It is such a shame not to make the most of all my hard work and with a baby it feels like double hard work - so I have started to freeze my herbs so I can use fresh and dried in my culinary delight until next Spring.

So I harvest the herbs, wash and chop them and put them in clear freezer bags with the names on the front. So whenever I need sage or parsley it is in the freezer just waiting to be used.

I save a fortune on fresh supermarket herbs in the Winter and such a simple thing to do...

Making Memorable Patchwork Keepsakes

By Taking Fabrics That Means Something ..

 and making small patchwork samples, you have a test piece and a happy memory...

I made this cathedral window test about 25 years ago with my Grandmother. I remember how we choose the fabrics and then stitched away in her kitchen. I remember that it was a bright sunny day and this is why I chose this pinks and whites out of Gran's sewing box. This little memory piece is in my patchwork stash and it is a great reference and hopefully for years to come I can pass down my knowledge to my grandchildren.

If I have inspired you, get some spare fabrics, match the colours and follow the tutorial below.

image copyright of patchworkdelights

click on link below -

This is just one of many of my wonderful memories, go on share yours...

My Love For Vintage Patterns..

Tuesday 6 November 2012

I Thought Tonight I Would Share Babies First Birthday Dress ...& My Passion For Vintage Patterns!

I made my first skirt when I was 11, it was a circular skirt with a thick 1980's belt and I thought it was so fab!  Mum taught me how to read a pattern and how to lay out the material so I could make it go much further than the pattern stated! I could always get a belt or extra skirt out of my fabric quota!

I then got hooked, so much so that I did pattern cutting at school and then as part of my degree. I even made my own wedding dress with help from my teacher - my Mum!

For Baby L's first birthday I wanted to make her a vintage party dress, something that could not be bought in a shop. Something with puff sleeves and bows and cute ric-rac trim. Reading an old pattern was a bit of a challenge but I go there and so proud that I made her first birthday dress so unlike!

I'll keep on collection old patterns until I run out of space. These are from the 1950's from my Granny and I just love them. Maybe my next project?


Lots of Celebrations = One Tired Mummy

Sunday 4 November 2012

You know that feeling...

...when the guests have gone, the house is being cleared up and the dishes washes - we did it! We had a party, all are happy but my goodness I am tired!

It seems that we have crammed a lot into a few weeks. With Mr S (my lovely husband) travelling and being on my own with baby, I have tried to prepare for Baby L's first birthday in the only way I know. Plan, plan, plan.

Now that I am on extended maternity leave, being with a baby seems to be more than a full time job especially when you are with them all day and night. So my evenings whilst she is sleeping, I have been planning ahead, cooking, freezing and making.

I posted my cakes on line over the last week as a party is not a party without cake!

This cake was inspired by a french cake that I saw in a magazine a few years ago when working in France. I tore out the photo and put it in my notebook. It is so simple but really light and went down a treat!

We had a lovely party and Baby L stuffed as many snacks as I think she has ever seen and went to sleep straight away that night!

We had a black cat theme being so close to Halloween, I went down to the Craft Shop and bought a peice of black cart and cut out cat shapes and stuck them on the mantle peice.

I made little felt badges which were so easy and such a pleasure to make...

And finally we stampled onto glitter paper Happy First Birthday and hung it over the fireplace!

Links to all the first birthday projects...

And it was Halloween...

After weeks of growing my pumpkins, I made a halloween pumpkin and this yummy risotto with pearl barley - what a treat!

First Birthday Fruit & Lemon Cake

This recipe is so light and fruity, a cake that is not too sweet so that Baby L can have a piece!

First Birthday Fruit & Lemon Cake

You Will Need -
Makes 1/4lb cake
530g Sultanas
50g Glace Cherries
Lemoncello 1 tablespoon
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
Zest and Juice of 1 Orange
90g Caster Sugar
100g Butter
2 Barn Eggs
1 Tablespoon of Good Quality of Marmalade
250g Self Raising Flour
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Almond Essence
20 inch diameter cake tin, double lined.
Go Create!
The fruit needs to soak in water for at least 12 hours before we start..
Turn the oven on to 150C.
1. Cream together the butter and sugar until soft then add in the lemon and orange zest.
2. Add in the juice and almond essence and mix.
3. Beat the eggs in one by one and mix thoroughly. Add the marmalade.
4. Drain the fruit and towel dry (so that the fruit is not wet and sinks to the bottom) and stir in with a wooden spoon.
5. Sift the flour, spice and half the lemon cello into the mixture. Fold thoroughly.
6. Turn the mixture into the cake tin and ensure it is in the corners of the tin and even.
7. Bake for 1 - 1.5 hours depending on your oven. Until a knife comes out of the cake clean.
8. Turn out onto a baking sheet, drizzle on the rest of the lemon cello and leave to cool. I normally leave mine over night.
To ice, I use apricot jam, marzipan and fondant icing mixed with water to form a paste. It sets in a few hours to give a gorgeous sugar glaze.


Cute Felt Button Pin Badge

Friday 2 November 2012

Making Felt Badges ..

..using up all the scraps in these cute little badges, perfect little stocking fillers for christmas..

If you are like me, you will have boxes upon boxes of spare fabric and threads just waiting for that quick project?

This badge took me about 20 minutes and I love it...

You Will Need  -

15 cm x 15cm square of pink felt
Top off the loo blocks
Sewing threads
20cm bias binding or fabric to make bias. I just love Cath Kidston's new range of bias!
10cm double satin ribbon (about 10mm wide)
2 buttons about 1cm across
1 saftey pin
30cm pink organza ribbon (5mm width)

Go Create!

This pictorial step by step is how I made this cute little pin badge for my daughter...

1. This is not the most glamourous picture but I use the loo block plastic as the template. I cut out the circular plastic and it make the basis of your badge!

 2. Stitch the plastic circle onto the felt. Do this on both sides of the plastic and trim.
 3. Then bias the edges. You have a front and a back for your badge.
 4. Take the pin and pin into the felt and stitch in place.

 6. Stitch on your buttons to the front and secure all spare threads in the hide and loose method. Then take your organza ribbon and loops and stitch to the back of the badge.

 6. Cut a peice of ribbon and hand stitch this onto your badge.
And that is it...a really simple felt badge..


First Birthday Celebrations!

Thursday 1 November 2012

With A First Birthday This Week - we are talking celebration cakes...

Well, my gorgeous little girl needed to have a wealth of cake for her birthday, start as you mean to go on. Some guest like sponge, others fruit so why not two?  I didn't want to use chocolate and a lot of coloured icing as I wanted the children to eat the cake (and sleep at night!). It was an absolute delight to bake them, here it my baking journey and recipes ...


Vanilla Victoria Sponge With Lemon Butter Cream Icing

 This cake was amazingly light and only used 5 large eggs to make a very light sponge. A hint of vanilla added to the flavour. Make sure the mixture is really beaten well and the flour is folded in.
You Will Need -
300g Self Raising Flour
30g Cornflower
325g Butter
325g Caster Sugar
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cream
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the icing -
150g Butter
75g Icing Sugar
1 teaspoon of lemon flavouring
2/3 drops of green food colouring
1 tablespoon milk

2 tablespoons of raspberry jam

Go Create!
Turn on the oven at 200C and line 2 circular cake tins with greaseproof.
(25cm and 20cm diameter tin)
1, Leave the butter and egg out at room temperature. Then  beat the butter and sugar together.
2. Add the vanilla extract and the eggs one by one. Whisk until soft peaks of buttery loveliness is in the bowl.
3. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in large folding motions until completely mixed in.
4. Add the milk.
5. Take the two cake tins and pour out the mixture making sure to get it in the corners.
6. Put in the hot oven and immediately turn down to 180C. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Leave to cool on a wire rack then turn upside down and remove the papers leaving behind a marvellous sponge cake.
To Make the Icing -
1. Leave the butter out at room temperature, then in a bowl beat in the icing sugar spoon by spoonful.
2. When the icing starts to get stiff add the lemon flavouring, if still stiff add a drop of milk.
To Assemble -

1. Take the jam and heat until runny, this is easier to spread on the cake. With the bottom side of the largest cake face up, spread on the jam. Add a thin layer icing.
2. Add the top of the smaller cake face down onto the cake. You now have a sandwich.
3. Take the icing and take 2 tablespoons and leave to one side for the green piping
4. Take a spatula and start to add the icing to the cake as per picture, use a boiling water to make the icing smooth.
5. Take the remaining icing, add the colouring and mix and then pipe to the edges with a small nozzle.


Baby's First Birthday Cake

For baby's first birthday, I searched everywhere for a fruit recipe that was light enough so she could each it. With no luck, I made my own lemony, fruity cake that was light yet still with all the qualities you would associate with a celebration cake.

This was really easy to made and cook. Make sure that you give yourself enough time to soak your fruit over night..

Recipe on the blog soon, here's a sneaky preview...