Sunday, 31 March 2013

Matryoshka Dolls

It's been a very busy week here. Fourteen people to cater for the Seder meal on Monday night then work, work, work. School broke up for the holidays on Thursday and we've been spending time with family since. We watched Watford play in Friday - we drew in extra time and some choice words were said about the referee. Then off to Birmingham for the day yesterday and Easter lunch with the in-laws today. I did manage to sneak in a bit of crafting though which was then shared with all the family.

I drew this picture a while ago and it's been sitting on my bedside table waiting to be made into pattern pieces and then a new felt keyring.

I don't know about you but sometimes everyday life just seems to get in the way and pictures like this can hang around for quite a while before I do anything with it. Before the football, I had Friday morning free so I turned the picture into this..

And then this....

I made seven of them but four have been given as presents. I really like the way that they have turned out. They're filled with stuffing and lavender and I have a red one hanging from my backpack. What do you think? If you would like me to make one for you in the colours of your choice I'll be selling them for £3 each plus post and packaging. Just message me and let me know. For those in the UK have a lovely rest of the bank holiday weekend. Now off to make some more Matryoshka dolls.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Pesach Baking

So, the first night of Pesach (Passover) is tomorrow night so today it was time to decrumb the kitchen and start the preparations. I'll be cooking for 14 tomorrow (and working all day) so today was baking day. Pesach is the festival that celebrates Moses leading the Jewish slaves out of Egypt. Whilst it is, of course, about remembering a sad story in the past it is also about all the food that needs to be prepared. I've bought the matzah - I love Waitrose. Who would have thought that a supermarket in Surrey would stock kosher food - normally we have to go up to Golders Green to get our supplies. I've also stocked up in matzah meal that I'll use to make kneidlach (matzah balls) and kremsels (matzah pancakes). I've boiled the eggs (traditionally everyone has an egg dipped in salt water at the Seder meal) and the parsley is ready on the windowsill (this will be the green herb that represents spring).

Pesach is the festival when we don't eat bread for 8 days - the story goes that the Jews had to leave Egypt so quickly that the bread didn't have time to rise so we eat matzah (unleavened bread) instead. All the baking that I've done today has therefore not used any flour. I always make a chocolate cake and then trawl the net for a new ground almond based cake. This is the best chocolate cake I have ever made and the recipe came from the Waitrose magazine. The recipe calls for green and black chocolate but I use value dark chocolate instead. It's one of the simplest recipes that tastes gorgeous. Here it is...

300g dark chocolate
275g caster sugar
165g unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
5 large free range eggs
1tbsp ground almonds

Break the chocolate into a microwave proof bowl, add the sugar, butter and pinch of salt. Microwave on defrost for 10 minutes (stir halfway through). Whisk the eggs with the ground almonds. Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture, pour into a 20cm greased tin and bake in an oven heated to 180 degrees centigrade for 35-40 minutes. And here it is....

I also found a new recipe on the net for apple and almond cake. I've been trying to find a recipe for ages that would use up the apples that have been sitting in the fruit bowl and here it is. It's a little more complicated than the chocolate cake but I'm hoping it will taste as good.

3 large eggs
3 apples
Lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
170g marg/butter
1 1/3 cups ground almonds
1tsp baking powder

Peel the apples. cube two of them and put in a bowl with half the lemon juice and 1tbsp sugar. slice the other apple and add lemon juice. Cream the marg and sugar. Add the egg yolks and continue mixing. Add the almonds and baking powder and fold in. Whip the egg whites until the stiff peak stage. Fold into the mixture. Add the cubed apples and fold in. Pour into a 20cm cake tin and place the sliced apples onto the top of the cake, fanned out. Bake in the oven at 150 degrees centigrade for 1 1/4 hours until browned on top.

And here it is (sorry about the dark photo). I'm now looking forward to eating them.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

New supplies

I found a wonderful offer from Sanctuary Beads  and my order arrived this morning. They've got a clearance on the website so I've got a stash of new beads, seeds beads, findings and stringing materials. They were all about £5 for a mystery pack and they're worth a lot more. Here are some of the seed beads.

I used some of the seed beads as embellishments on my owl keyrings. I had some time today as my children were otherwise occupied with their various clubs and activities - judo and duke of Edinburgh - so I was able to finish off the owls which I started cutting out last weekend. I'm currently under a blanket with a horrible cold but I've managed to finish the owls and I'm also watching Cliff Richard in Summer Holiday. Here they are with a before and after shot.

They're now all packaged up ready for their new home (I wonder who will want this lovely owl to adorn their bag or keys?). Hope you're having a lovely day.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Mother's Day

The whole family was away this weekend which doesn't really work for being treated on Mother's Day but I had a lovely weekend anyway. It started with sales of my Leah Makes products - I was so pleased that other people liked them as much as I do. I then went on to see the school production of Little Shop of Horros which was awesome - we have so many talented students and it wouldn't surprise me if I see some of them on the west end stage in the future. Today was spent crafting and cooking. I made some replacement large hearts as I sold four of them yesterday.

In between crafting and making flapjack, I made two curries using the Prashad cookbook.

The first curry was vegetable handi (tomato and chunky vegetable curry) which has just the right amount of spice in it.

And the second curry was based on the mattar paneer (sweet and spicy cheese and peas) recipe.

The boys are back now so I'm looking forward to an evening of curry eating. Yum.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Finished Owls

All of the owls are now finished so there are lots of colour choices.

I think these would look lovely hanging off a chest of drawers.

Monday, 4 March 2013

A group of owls

After I was asked to make some owl felties rather than brooches at the weekend, I though I'd cut out some more. I've been working on them and they're nearly finished. Now time to cook dinner.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Early morning making

Here are two of the commissions that I've now finished - two more to go.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

First sales

I've been giving the things I make as presents and my mum has a whole range of owls for her bags but today I made my first sale to someone outside the family - I was so proud. I've been making various things for quite a while and in the back of my mind I've been building up stock so that I could have a stall somewhere but I haven't quite got round to it yet. To be honest, it's just nice to have a hobby that keeps me off the streets. So today, it was lovely that someone liked my things so much that she bought 5 items and someone else gave me a commission which I am in the process of fulfilling. The hearts were very popular and there was interest in the owl brooch I made a while ago.