February snow

I absolutely love snow. This is my fifth year living in Canterbury, and it has snowed every year. Coming from a city by the sea, snow didn’t feature very much in my childhood…although I remember a few winters when I was younger when it did snow, and I just thought it was the best thing you could ever imagine.

Snow fascinates me; the prospect of a snow fall turns me into an excitable five-year old. I love pulling on two pairs of socks and legwarmers underneath my wellies and going crunching in show halfway up to my knees, and I equally love sitting in my comfy chair with a big blanket and a cup of tea – just watching it all fall.

I could look at pictures of snow virtually all day long, because it’s always so different. You wouldn’t think so; it’s white and it’s wet and when there’s a lot of it, it tends to cause chaos. But I think it’s beautiful and it makes me think of God.

This weekend we had our first real snowfall of 2012. We had about 1 inch on Friday night, but not enough to stop me getting to work on Saturday morning. By 11pm on Saturday night though my car was completely covered and I was sat, curled up in my comfy chair with my big blanket and my cup of tea, just watching out of the window as the complex where I live was transformed into an absolute wonderland.

Early on Sunday morning I got up, while it was still dark, and just stood at my window – looking. I love how when it’s snowed, it’s never really dark outside. It was beautiful. My window looks over our car park and onto a wooded area, but at that time of the morning I couldn’t make out any cars, just vague bumps underneath sheets of white. The trees were completely weighed down with thick white snow. I loved it.

I walked to church on Sunday, leaving about half an hour earlier than I normally would. It was only about 8am, so the snow was completely untouched; I was the first. I couldn’t believe how quiet it was all around me – usually even on Sundays there is traffic noise, people noise…but today there was nothing. It felt like an amazing gift from God, just for me to enjoy.

My camera doesn’t do justice to the beauty…but then replications never do. Here are some of my snaps.

Fabric Flower Tutorial

I’ve fallen in love with this really simple way of making pretty flowers out of scraps of fabric.

It involves minimal sewing (basic running stitches only) and the whole flower takes less than an hour to complete. Perfect little task for when you’ve an hour to spare.

You only need:

6 rectangles of fabric…matching or contrasting, you can use anything. For this flower I used a pink fabric with multicoloured spots, but have also made one using two different florals, and another using 6 completely different fabrics. It really depends what you have available, and if you want to match/contrast to an item of clothing or something like that.

Anyway, six rectangles. They can be any size, as long as the short end is 1/2 the long end. (e.g. 3 inches x 6 inches) This is because the first step is to fold the rectangles and sew along one side, at right angles to the fold:

The next step is to cut a curve, from the bottom of the stitched seam, to the diagonally opposite corner on the fold. Like so…

A tip to make sure your curves are all the same is to cut one, then use it as a template for the others. They won’t be exactly identical, but they need to be as close to identical as possible so that there is uniformity in the petals.

Next turn your squares inside out, and ensure that where your seam meets the fold, there is a clean corner.

Here comes the fun, and only tricky bit. You need a strong thread for this – I use regular cotton but doubled over for extra hold. Tie a knot in the end of the threat, and sew a loose running stitch through the petals, ensuring that the start of one petal overlaps onto the end of the one previous.

I was so involved in this step that I didn’t get a photo, but the aim is to have all the petals along the thread. You want as few stitches as possible, so that the petals pleat easily when you pull the thread through and scrunch them down.

They should all just come together neatly in the centre, though on all mine I’ve done some oversewing on the back. On the front you don’t need to be so neat, since you can fix a button over the section where all the petals meet.

And there you have a 1 hour fabric flower. I’ve turned mine into hair accessories (sew on an elastic hair band, or fix a hair grip in place with a few stiches to make a slide in accessory) or corsages by fixing a length of ribbon to the back of the flower (ensuring the stitches are halfway through the length of the ribbon). You can also purchase brooch backs from craft stores/online, if you’re a brooch kind of person.

I think they’re really cute and they’re so simple, making use of the scraps which you keep for “that project one day”!



Christmas Cake

Yes, I know it’s February, but if you read the previous post you’ll see that I’m clearing my backlog of images. Bear with me!

Back in October I had a big of a Christmas moment in the supermarket and decided I wanted to bake a Christmas cake. We just happened to be at the baking aisle, staring at the various Christmas baking necessities…but that’s beside the point.

I didn’t fancy all the faff of soaking the fruit (let alone the expense) so we bought a pack of 2oog ready-soaked fruit for about £2. A fraction of the cost of buying all the dried fruit individually, and also saving the cost of buying a bottle of alcohol which we’d never use up. Ours was pre-soaked in rum and I nearly got drunk on the fumes alone when I opened the packet!!

I spent a little while searching for the ‘right’ recipe, because I realised after buying the fruit, marzipan, and icing, that I don’t actually like Christmas cake that much…usually because the alcohol is overwhelming/it’s dry/heavy. So I specifically wanted to find a recipe that would make a light and moist cake.  (By the way, how hideous is the word moist)

I found the recipe here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/christmascake_2359     and apart from exchanging all the dried fruit/brandy for our ready-bought fruit, and using ready-made icing instead of playing about with egg whites, I followed the instructions exactly. That in itself is unheard of for me, I’m much more of a “chuck it all together and who cares if you left the sugar out, it might still be ok” type person.

Anyway…on the afternoon of 24th October (two months before Christmas…eve) I spent the whole afternoon in my kitchen, baking up a storm. Some friends and I were hosting a Clothes Swap on the 25th, so I was baking for that too, and the Christmas Cake was the last thing I made as I didn’t want to put anything else in the oven with the cake.

Here’s the yummy looking batter:

I used my best mixing bowl especially for the photo.

I lined the tin (something I never normally do, but I was going by the book, remember) and I got a little worried the mix wouldn’t all fit in, but it did…

3 hours at 150 Celsius and it looked like this………

Ignore that little burnt-looking bit. It’s not burnt, it’s extra flavourful ;p

My friend came round whilst the cake was cooking and said that it was like Christmas already. She was also pretty shocked at all the other baked goodies I’d made that afternoon. Bear in mind all this took only 3 hours prep time:

That would be several dozen jam tarts, several dozen oat biscuits,  several dozen cupcakes and also 2 rounds of chocolate orange shortbread with orange icing!

When my cake had cooled I wrapped it in cling film and foil, then chucked it in a Celebrations Tub (airtight) until December 20th, when I marzipanned it. I didn’t take photos of this because I don’t like marzipan and didn’t want to put it on, but my mum made me. Seems I’m still not old enough to ignore direct instructions! The marzipan needed 1 day to set, before I put the white icing on, so I did it ahead of time since I wanted to serve the cake at Small Group on Dec 22nd. Cue mad, frantic times trying to get it iced before everyone arrived!

But, I did get it iced and if I do say so myself, it looked pretty good. (And it tasted good too!!!!)

The little decorations were from the supermarket, £1 for  12, and the ribbon was from my Ribbon Box.

And there you have it, Christmas Cake in February


Photo blogs…

I used my camera today for the first time in a while, and when I sat down to take photos from it, I realised that there are way more images than I thought – I’ve been snapping away with the intention of adding the photos into blogs, but never actually getting round to the blogging instelf!

So, since it is snowy and cold outside (which I love!) I am snuggled up under a blanket with the lovely Mr Buble singing to me, compiling a few photo blogs to rid my poor camera of the backlog.
Stay tuned!