Other

Crafts

Salt Dough

Guess who found the remains of a batch of salt dough wrapped up in the fridge a couple of days ago? I was going through the fridge and doing a big clear out, checking expiry dates and salad veg squidginess, and found a mysterious package at the back of the salad drawer. It was well wrapped in cling film and baking foil. It turned out to be the left over salt dough from when I made a kettle ornament (Salt Dough Kettle).  It had gone a bit wet and sticky so I added more plain flour until it became more pastry-like and used it up making decorative pears, apples, hearts and stars. Small circles were indented in the dough using straws, holes were pricked using the end of a knitting needle and lines were made using a butter knife. The ones in the picture are baked but not painted. The ones that got painted are not posted… Flupped them up good and proper by painting with water colours and overworking them. The surface became sticky and the details got rubbed and blurred. Meh. Could have kicked myself.

As crafts go, salt dough is very easy. You can cut out shapes with biscuit (cookie) cutters or draw round templates. Cereal boxes make for sturdy templates. Salt dough takes a good while to dry – mine were in the oven for some 16 hours on its lowest temperature. Obviously, the thicker the dough, the longer the baking time.

They can also be microwaved; I’ve tried microwaving and had mixed results but always with some surface puffing, buckling and cracking. (See Salt Dough Hearts and Salt Dough Microwave Method).  Sometimes, the cracking suits the project but there are times you might want a smoother surface to work on.

Salt Dough:

2 cups of flour to 1 of salt. Add a tbs of dry wallpaper paste as well to help prevent mold and make the dough more pliable if you have some.

Mix with water until it becomes pastry-like then roll it out and cut it into shapes.

You can create all sorts of things and hang them up afterwards – just make a hole so you can insert cord or wire to hang them from – or, insert some bent wire into the raw dough (wet the ends of the wire with a thickish flour and water mixture ‘glue’ then insert the wire into the piece) and bake the mount with the dough. If you’re feeling ambitious or imaginative there are numerous hints and tips from the internet mavens – Google and you will get!

Basic instructions:

  1. Place on a baking tray in the oven on its lowest setting until the dough is thoroughly dry. Tap the back of the shapes – they should sound ‘hollow’. Try pressing the back – if there’s any yield in the piece it needs further drying in the oven time.
  2. Paint and let them dry – bone dry!
  3. Coat with a varnish – floor, ship or spray varnish, whatever is easiest and cheapest to find, to seal the dough. If you don’t seal them moisture will get in and they will eventually crumble or go mouldy.

Pear templates:

If you fancy sewing some pears there’s a template and tutorial here for you.

Chat, Sewing

Heavens Above

Sew something simple. Primitive stars. Really I’m using up some calico remnants but you might say I’m being forward-thinking, organised and thriftily sewing bits and bobs for Christmas. Your call.

The template for you:

Primitive Star Sewing Template

The inner line is the seam allowance. I like to sew it the Tilda way – trace the outline of the template onto folded fabric, sew round it and cut it out afterwards.

Leave one side open when you stitch round so you can stuff it. Finally, close the open side up with ladder stitch. Decorate as your heart desires.

Well, weird choices of interests today. Was watching Harlots while doing a bit of sewing then came back to my ‘office’ and listened to The Passion of St Matthew on You Tube. Passion everywhere! A bit incongruous but there you go.

Then watched Greg Davies doing his impression of Chris Ewbank (Eight Out of Ten Cats) reading classics and laughed like a drain. Not my Lovely Girls Laugh…

Then watched a clip where Jimmy Carr asked what Susie Dent had been doing, apart from looking up Glory Holes (more Eight Out of Ten Cats), and laughed like a double drain. Whatever that may be. If there is such a thing.

Baking, Chat

Lebkuchen

A recipe for you!

Lebkuchen is a traditional German Christmas treat and is like gingerbread but softer. This is my favourite recipe after trying several last year when I was inspired by the gorgeous displays of Lebkuchen in Betty’s window display in Ilkley (Merry Christmas 2016). My attempt to create something similar was pretty dismal but I cut corners all over the shop and am not surprised. This year I’ll take care and make a decent job of it.

I gussied up the recipe with some gold foiling effect in Photoshop – I posted the instructions on how to do this here: Create a quick gold foil overlay in Photoshop. I’m getting into the Christmas spirit already!

Enjoy the Lebkuchen. I know I will.

Baby, Other

Shake your booties!

Still absolutely loving these crochet hearts. They make such sweet eye candy and use up those oddments of yarn that could otherwise end up as ratty nests in the bottom of bags stuffed in the back of cupboards.

This one has some dried lavender with a few drops of pure lavender oil to give it some sweet smelling scent with calming properties as well.

The tiny yellow flower is from Attic24 and is called ‘Teeny Tiny Flower’.  The white flower behind it is a variation of the Flax flower pattern that can be found in ‘100 Lace Flowers to Crochet: A Beautiful Collection of Decorative Floral and Leaf Patterns for Thread Crochet’ by Caitlin Sainio.

I put up the link to the heart pattern a couple of posts ago.

I made this one, also with lavender, to pop onto a little wooden coat hanger with the cardi (KNITTED – and I really don’t like knitting and rarely do it but for this pattern, I made an exception).

And, just because I have conquered crocodile stitch and wonder why I found it so mysterious and difficult, another pair of croc booties. These have a few sprinkles of sequins. I have squashed the booties in my hand to text for scratchiness and couldn’t feel them so hopefully, over a pair of socks, these will look sassy and keep some little toes nice and warm.

I shall be in the UK this coming week. I am sure you have a fairly good idea why…

Baking

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

I made a lovely big pot of soup. It was delicious. This is the pot that went to table.

When is a pot not a pot? When it’s ajar… (groan all you like, I can’t hear you!). It’s the hue of something that would probably be banned if it was an artificial food colouring… It’s a colour only bogey men would love.

Or Gracie   (just joking, she must have been thinking of FISH here).

But…

It is really amazingly good and simple to make:

I used 2 middle sized bags of frozen mixed cauliflower and broccoli florets (I like frozen veg – it’s ready prepared AND it’s very fresh – limp, withered veg cannot be frozen. It just cannot be used.

Veg is picked, prepared, blanched and fast-frozen. The so-called ‘fresh’ produce in the supermarkets can sit there for days and get sneezed on or picked over by hands that could have done anything.

Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup

  • 2 middle sized bags of frozen mixed cauliflower and broccoli florets, DEFROSTED overnight, spread out on a baking tray, spritzed generously with Fry Light and sprinkled with a little garlic powder and turmeric.
  • Bake for 30 mins on 180º.
  • Fry a couple of onions (I use Coconut oil because I know it is magic and will make me immortal).
  • Add all the cauliflower and broccolli to the fried onions and continue to fry.
  • Stir in 1600 ml of stock (I like Kallo organic vegetable stock cubes and used 4).
  • Up to you, but I added some more garlic powder, some black pepper, some turmeric, a little hot chilli powder and a little medium curry powder. I taste in between  (it’s all cooked so nothing to worry about germ-wise) till I think the flavour is about right.
  • Leave to simmer for about 30 mins.
  • Blend – I use a regular hand blender that does the job easily – and blend it till it’s smooth.

Transfer to a tidy tureen to take to table. Serve with crusty granary bread – I popped a large granary cob in the oven to warm it through and it was like freshly-cooked bread.

So there you go. It might look like Shrek’s snot (I’d never make a food writer, would I?) but it’s hearty and flavoursome. And, pretty healthy, too.

The news says the UK is being battered by storm Doris. Seems such an incongruous name for a wild weather bomb. Sounds like she’d be more at home with the People’s Friend and a knitting pattern. Ireland has been getting some of  her violent winds (she must have had some of my cauliflower soup) and the hoolie woke me around 5.30 am with a raging noise like waves crashing against rocks.

I finally gave up trying to drop back off and got up for a lovely cup of tea. I make a pot every morning and got out some crochet bits I’ve been making on and off.

I didn’t disturb Gracie for long. She soon settled back down and the wind didn’t bother her one bit.

I keep my crochet treasures (lol) in this ‘I love this you much’ – or something like that – box. It came in a set of three, each nested inside another. This was the small one and is very handy for the job. I keep thinking that I’m still new to crochet but actually I’m not a newbie any more at all! I’ve still got things to learn, though, and love reading crochet blogs to pick up hints and tips.

These are for a corsage for a green and lilac coloured-cardigan. The leaves haven’t been blocked so they’re a bit crumpled. They’ve all got their cotton tails on – I use them to help put the group together. Only when I’m happy with the composition do I weave them in. What a chore though, eh? Gah. The leaves are called Dutchman’s Breeches (not really leaves at all, then) or Bleeding Heart (who knows? Not me. I’ve seen the same pattern, more or less, with both names) which I adapted as the original pattern produced leaves that were dense and stiff.

The twisty noodle and small curl are simplicity itself and the hookey internet people share patterns for them just everywhere. The purple and mauve flowers in the middle were from a Mollie Makes free online pattern. Google Mollie Makes crochet flower corsage. Mine are slightly adapted (to make them smaller) but essentially uses the same pattern.

I also made a couple of crochet roses:

The scalloped roses (the orange and grey ones) came from a pattern on Attic24’s blog and the pale lilac coiled rose came from Pink Milk’s blog. Google – you’ll find both very easily.

I’m going to make like Gracie and chill out for a bit now. My domestic Goddess is fulfilled for a while, I’ve been very very good and have the house clean and sparkling (my halo is visible from space, you know) and it’s time to attend to other things. I am currently loading VMware onto my Linux laptop so that I can run Adobe stuff under a virtual Windows 7 machine. That makes me very happy.

Until the next time, it’s bye from me. Be good and be happy.

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