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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Great Foster Bake Off - Week 3 - Bread Week

Bread making is something I've tried my hands at many times, I've even taken a bread making course at a cookery school and I still find it pretty hit and miss. Yeast is one unpredictable beast, that's for sure.

As we all know, kid's aren't the most patient beings, mine included. And so the thought of making a yeast risen bread that needs time to knead and prove with the wildlings filled me with dread.  I just knew it wasn't going to be the best idea and that they wouldn't stay interested.

I searched for an alternative recipe and came across this one - Courgette and Cheddar soda bread. Not only is there no yeast (bicarbonate soda is used in it's place), but it also has hidden vegetables. Win win.



There were many aspects of this recipe that kid's enjoyed getting stuck into. They love measuring ingredients on the scales and, they helped with grating the courgettes and cheese. They particularly liked helping to squeeze the juice from the grated courgette and seeing all of the green water seep out.

Rori helped me to knead the dough as Logan isn't a huge fan of getting sticky hands, and she also helped me to 'paint' the loaf with the egg wash and they both helped to sprinkle the cheese on top.




I found in my oven that the loaf took longer to cook than stated in the recipe, but the oven we have here is a little unpredictable so I wasn't surprised. I also found it a little doughy, however again this could be down to my oven or also the amount of courgette added. The recipe calls for two medium sized courgettes, but doesn't indicate a weight. Everyone's interpretation of a medium courgette could be different and I think mine were more on the large size.

Nevertheless, this was a tasty loaf, an easy recipe to follow and a good introduction to bread making for the kiddies. We tried it fresh from the oven, still warm with butter and also the next morning had slices toasted with poached eggs on top which was delicious!

Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it:

Courgette and Cheddar Soda Bread

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Cuts into 12 slices
Easy

Ingredients:

400g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting 
2 medium courgettes 
50g rolled oat 
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda 
75g mature cheddar, grated 
small bunch thyme, leaves only
 284ml pot buttermilk 
1 tbsp clear honey 
1 egg, beaten 

Method:

1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and dust a baking sheet with a little flour. Place a box grater on top of a clean tea towel and coarsely grate the courgettes. Lift the corners of the tea towel and, holding it over the sink, twist to compact the courgettes and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.

2. Put the flour, oats, bicarb and 1 tsp fine salt in a large bowl. Add most of the cheddar (save a little for the top), the thyme and the courgette. Mix the buttermilk and honey, then pour into the flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to clump together, then tip onto a work surface and knead briefly to bring all the loose bits together – try not to overwork the dough or the bread will be heavy.

3. Shape into a round loaf and place on the baking sheet. Brush with egg and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Use a sharp knife to score a deep cross on top of the loaf, then bake for 40 mins until deep golden brown. Best served warm, but leftovers will keep for 1- 2 days.






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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Great Foster Bake Off - Week 2 - Biscuit Week

Who doesn't love a good biscuit, am I right?

The only type of biscuit I've made previously is a cookie, and I'm not sure if that's in it's own category or if it falls under 'biscuit' or not. Cookies are easy peasy and myself and the kids have made various cookies together already and so we wanted to try out something new and flex our biscuit making (and eating) skills this week.

We decided to try Viennese Whirls. One of the bakers actually made Viennese Whirls on the show, and they looked delicious. I had a quick google and once I saw how few ingredients were needed, I was sold.







I took the recipe we used from BBC Good Food which is the bible of cooking recipes in my eyes. The only change I made was using homemade Apricot Jam as the filling rather than the suggested strawberry or raspberry.



They turned our absolutely delicious and the kids scoffed them up in 10 minutes flat (with some help from Nanny and Grandad, of course).






I urge you to try this recipe with your little ones. There's so much for them to get involved with such as the mixing, piping and filling. It's a lovely involved recipe which is fantastic for little helpers!

Here's the recipe if you'd like to give it a go!

Viennese Whirls

Prep: 45 Mins
Cook: 12 mins
Makes 10
Easy

Ingredients:

For the biscuits:
200g slightly salted butter, softened
50g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
2 tsp cornflour
½ tsp baking powder

For the filling
100g butter, softened
170g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g raspberry jam or strawberry jam

Method:

1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment. Put the butter and icing sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk for about 5 mins until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat again until fully incorporated.

2. Sift in the flour, cornflour and baking powder, and fold into the mixture using a spatula until combined (the dough should have a tacky consistency). Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large star-shaped nozzle. If all the mixture doesn’t fit, do it in 2 batches.

3. Pipe swirly circles 5cm diameter onto 2 baking sheets making sure there are 3cm spaces between each swirl.

4. Bake for 10-12 mins, swapping the trays over halfway through the cooking time so the biscuits are evenly baked, until pale golden and cooked through. Leave to cool on the baking sheets for a few mins, then transfer to wire racks.

5. While the biscuits cool, make the filling. Put the softened butter in a large mixing bowl and add the icing sugar. Stir together initially with a wooden spoon then switch to electric beaters or a whisk to get the buttercream fluffy and smooth. Add the vanilla extract and beat once more to combine. Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag and snip off the end.

6. Turn the biscuits over so their flat side is facing up then pipe buttercream over half of the biscuits and spread a little jam on the rest. Sandwich a jam covered biscuit together with a buttercream one and repeat until all the biscuits are used up.

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Saturday, 9 September 2017

Pattern Testing - Sew Me Wear Me Pyjamas

I was accepted recently to be a pattern tester for a new PDF sewing pattern company - Sew Me Wear Me. I was asked to test their pyjama pattern, which was great as I was needing to make a new pair of jammies for Logan who seems to have shot up like a beanstalk recently. The pattern is a classic pair of pyjamas, which has elasticated-waist bottoms and a top with options for long and short sleeves and also a few optional applique designs too.

The pattern is downloaded and printed like any other PDF pattern and was quick and simple to do. I cut a size 4 (As Logan is 4 years old) and went about gathering my supplies.

The pattern has woven bottoms and a jersey top and I happened to have the perfect fabrics in my stash. I bought the bushed cotton which I chose for the bottoms from The Material Girl Horbury on facebook. I *think* it's Michael Miller and I got it from one of the sale albums for £5 a metre! The mustard jersey is from Fabworks and is my favourite colour of all time. I don't think they have any in stock anymore but that was only £3 a metre.

The instructions were simple and easy to follow, and the construction techniques straight forward. I managed to sew these up in about an hour and that included the dinosaur applique on the tshirt (my first ever attempt at applique!).

Logan really loves his new pyjamas and they fit really well. I could have perhaps chosen a size 5 for the trousers as Lo does have long legs, but that would be a choice on my part and not an issue with the pattern drafting at all.

As soon as I finished sewing them up Logan wanted to try them on and dance around whilst I took some photos. He really loves them, and so do I. I love the mix of woven bottoms and the knit top. I can see myself making Logan and Rori some more pairs up to see them through the winter. I think I'll also use the top pattern to sew them up some simple tshirts and long-sleeve tops too to layer up in the colder months.

So to conclude, a really simple and easy pattern to sew, with a lot of scope to personalise how you wish - a great basic pattern that anyone who sews for children should have in their pattern library!








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Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Great Foster Bake Off! Week 1 - Cakes

I don't know about you, but I'm so pumped that a new season of the Great British Bake Off has started! Last year Logan loved to watch the episodes with me and he really loves to bake. We usually bake or cook something together once a week and I have a big notebook that I write every recipe we make together inside (with notes on whether he like it or not and what he would change) so that when he's all grown up he can keep his recipe book and look back over all his favourite recipes! I think it's really important to learn to cook from a young age. It's the norm in society these days to be really disconnected from our food, and I don't want Lo and Rori to grow up like that. We're open and honest about where our food comes from which I think aided Logan's concious decision to become a vegetarian about a year ago at the ripe old age of three. What a wise kid. We rarely eat processed food and getting Lo and Rori involved in the kitchen has really helped them form a healthy relationship with food.

Anyway, I digress...As Logan would be starting school this month if we hadn't decided to take the home-ed route, I thought we should really kick-off our home-ed journey with a project we could all sink our teeth into.

Each week we will be following the theme of the episodes of The Great British Bake Off and trying our hand at some new recipes! As we don't get live UK TV here in Spain, we'll be catching up the day after the episodes are aired and then having our bake-off at the weekend. I'll be documenting each week (triumphs and failures) and I'm excited to get stuck in!

Week 1 - Cake Week

Great Foster Bake Off Week 1 - Raspberry Bakewell Cake


Who doesn't love a cake?! We decided to go for a fruity cake recipe that would make the most of what's in season at the moment and so we went for a Raspberry Bakewell Cake (recipe from BBC Good Food). With only a small amount of ingredients and 5 star ratings already, I thought this recipe would be a full-proof option to ease us into our project.

Logan and Rori both love to help measure the ingredients and mix them together. Cracking eggs is the most exciting task of baking, in their opinion. Well, that and licking the bowl!




The cake mix came together really quickly (easiest cake I've ever made!) and tidy-up time was quick thanks to it all being mixed in one bowl which is a bonus! 

We all tasted a slice after dinner and were all really impressed. As we usually opt for a cake that's either chocolatey or covered in icing, this cake made a welcome change. Lovely and light and fresh. The perfect end-of-the-summer celebration!

We're excited to get stuck into Week 2 - Biscuit week!

Great Foster Bake Off Week 1 - Raspberry Bakewell Cake



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Monday, 21 August 2017

Hopeless Romantic Hand Painted Jackets

I posted a few months ago about finding a new hobby - leather painting. To be honest it's started a whirlwind love-affair and now I can't stop painting ALLLLL THE THINGS!

I started to sell some jackets in the shop and they've had an incredible response! I came up with a design for a jacket that is lover-dovey enough to be  a bridal jacket, but also neutral enough to be worn when you're not getting married too. To me, if I bought a jacket for my wedding day, I'd want to wear it over and over and so, the Hopeless Romantic jackets came into being.

Rock the Frock Bridal Boutique in Essex (the coolest bridal boutique around) stock my jackets and took them along to an incredible photoshoot with Rebecca Douglas Photography who captured some AMAZING images.

HopelessRomantic Hand Painted Jacket by Lucky Sew and Sew, Photography by Rebecca Douglas


I've had the chance to do some amazing custom jackets too and I've got some more great custom ideas in the queue along with a few new ideas up my sleeve. I've just invested in some more paint colours, as well as some new painting products that I can't wait to test out!

Blue HopelessRomantic Hand Painted Jacket by Lucky Sew and Sew, Photography by Rebecca Douglas



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Friday, 18 August 2017

Paprika Burnside Bibs

When I saw Sew House Seven release the Burnside Bibs pattern I knew I needed it RIGHT NOW. I did buy it and download it and print it out but I only got round to actually using the pattern this weekend.

What I loved about this pattern was that the wider leg, nipped in waist shape. As I experiment more with my wardrobe, I'm finding wearing new colours and new shapes so much fun. I normally stick to a rolled up, peg-leg shape that is looser through the middle. But wearing the Ninni Culottes recently has helped me to embrace a wider leg and learn to love my curves a bit more. The curves ain't going nowhere, they're here to stay so I might as well learn to love them, right?

I hummed and hawed about what fabric to go for. Currently my fabric stash is extensive and so I had a lot of choice. I was going to go for a peachy coloured twill but worried last minute that the fabric might be a bit too heavy. I then thought about black linen but I wanted to be a bit daring and black seemed too safe.

I bought the paprika linen a little while ago, not knowing what I would use it for, but just because I loved the colour. It's from Fabworks (you can see it here) After deliberating with my Mum (as all good sewists should), we decided to go for the paprika. Its a little weighty, but the added elastane would help it to move with my body, and the colour is just too delicious to say no to. I have some yummy autumnal jerseys (mustard, forest green, petrol *heart eyes*) in my stash to make tee's from that would go so well with the paprika, that it was a no-brainer.




I sewed a straight size 16 as this is where my hip measurement fell into. My waist and bust both fit into the size 14, but as I like the bib part on dungarees bigger rather than smaller, I didn't bother to opt for the smaller top size and grade out. Plus as I was opting for version #2 with the drawstring back, a little extra room in the waist wouldn't be an issue.

I wanted the cropped length but as I have ridiculously short legs (27" inseam) , I cut the cropped length off at the smallest size. I still ended up having to cut another 4" or so off once they were made up as laughably the cropped length were full length on my hobbit legs. This was the only thing I had to amend.

I took my time with this sew and I enjoyed it immensely. I double stitched everywhere suggested (topstitching on the pockets etc) but as I only had a single needle I had to slow down and do it all twice. I sewed the dungarees up over 3 evenings (around 1.5 hours the first two evenings and another 30 minutes or so to hem on the final evening), and I'm so happy with the final results.



None of the steps were too challenging, and the instructions are very clear and easy to follow. I'm already thinking about making my next pair!

I can't express how in love I am with these dungarees. The colour, the shape, the fit...everything about them is perfect. They feel so 'me'!



This feels like my first real experiment with my wardrobe. Stepping out of my comfort zone and trying some new things has really helped to discover something new that works for me. I discovered that I actually really like the larger front hip pockets which is something I usually avoid. I love the wider leg. I love the more saturated block colour and I love the slightly 70's worker vibe of these dungers.

It's also the first sew that has given me a great deal of pleasure and sense of accomplishment. Nothing went wrong on this sew (a rarity for me!). I'm over the moon with all of the detailing and topstitching and feel confident in my sewing skills.

Sewing and wardrobe level up all around and a win for slow fashion!









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Monday, 14 August 2017

A Bunch of Jane Tee's and a Rio - A Tee Sewing Binge

I've been on a sewing binge recently. I need to up my wardrobe staples game by quite a bit. It's all great fun sewing dresses and skirts, but really, they just don't get that much rotation in my everyday wardrobe.

As I've mentioned, I've been thinking more and more about sewing in a more eco-friendly way and making it more sustainable. To me, that means sewing the staples. It's far to easy to head down to the cheap chain-stores every season and buy 10 basic t-shirts for a couple of quid each...but the reality is they only last a few washes, they're not the best quality nor fit, and that's before you take into account the possible child-labour or low-paid labour that's involved in their production. Is that something I want to be supporting? No way.

So, I decided I'd best start with the ultimate wardrobe staple - the humble t-shirt. I currently have two favourite t-shirt patterns - The Rio by Seamwork and the Jane also by Seamwork. I've made both of these tees before and I love how quick and simple they are to sew. I had a few suitable fabrics in my stash so I bulk cut the tees our one afternoon and sewed them over one evening. One evenings work for 4 tshirts is pretty efficient if you ask me!

Here are the 3 Jane tees.






Alterations to the Jane: I cut a medium graded out to a large at the hips. I altered the neck line by using a larger seam allowance when overlocking the neck band on which made the opening larger and the band narrower which I prefer. I had previously shortened the length by about an inch, but I think I will actually add that back on to any others I make in future. I find the fit on the oversized size. I could probably get away with not grading out at the hips to the Large, even though I fit in the large sizing bracket for hips. But it is supposed to be a relaxed tee, so I can get away with it. I find the sleeves long on the Jane tee too, so I always roll them up when I'm wearing them which is OK as I like that look. I added a chest pocket (self drafted) on my blue version, and I love how it turned out.

For my three versions I used jerseys which were all purchased at Fabworks and a bargain at around £4 a metre. Each tee only used a metre of fabric. I love how versatile these tees are. I can tuck them in and wear with my Ninni culottes, wear them under some dungarees, or wear them with some hudson pants.

For my Rio Tee I used an amazing jersey that I picked up on the Goldhawk Road in January. It's a textured peachy coloured jersey, with gold foiling, which would be perfect for jazzing up an outfit. I love the scoop neck of the Rio and the only alteration I made was chopping off the lower hem at the back and making it one straight hem all around.



I really love how these tees turned out. The only thing I need to work on in topstitching the neckband and hems. I currently use a lightening stitch as my total hatred of twin-needling pushed me to find an alternative. Ideally I would like a coverstitch machine, but we can't have it all! I like how the lightening stitch looks, it's just a little susceptible to stretching out as it stitches which can leave the tee a little wavy in places. I have ordered another twin needle and I'm going to give it a go again; I've got a few more jersey's for Autumn (bottle green and mustard *heart eyes*) and I'm going to try the Mandy Boat tee by Tessuti I think. It seems so wrong to be thinking ahead to Autumn already, but it'll be here before I know it!






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