Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Recipe : Tomato & Cheese Cookies

Another gluten free recipe, so feel free to replace with normal plain flour if you prefer. These  become quite addictive and made up my lunches for a few days. The sun dried tomato is deliciously sweet and the cheese very moreish. They are simple to make but keep in mind the couple of hours fridge time so you will need to make these in advance. They don't tend to spread whilst cooking so you can make them as thin or as chunky as you like, just adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Monday, 27 February 2012

Crafty DIY : Stencilled Cake Tin

If, like us, you have a few tins leftover from Christmas sweets and biscuits, then you probably have the same dilemma. They're way too good to throw away, but there are only so many tins you can use for storing pasta, screws and nails and rabbit food. So what do you do with them? Turn them into gorgeous cake tins of course! They are very easy to jazz up and make great gifts, especially when filled with a homemade birthday cake - drop in a few candles and a box of matches for an extra surprise.

Basically I spray painted an empty Cadbury's Roses tin white. You will probably need to spray three layers and be sure to leave it to dry thoroughly for at least a day so as to get rid of the paint smell and to avoid paint coming off when the lid is pressed down. Next I reused the stencil that I made here for the bench cushions. You can find out how to make your own sturdy reusable stencils from laminated paper here. You can of course buy a stencil but it's very easy to make your own using your own designs or any old picture you find from Google Images to tailor your theme.

Now you can proudly display your new cake tin rather than hiding it at the back of a cupboard just in case you might need it one day. Or wrap one up in see-through cellophane dressed with curling ribbon and make somebody's day with a gift.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Crafty DIY : Candles in a Wine Box

Here's a simple idea for all you wine and port lovers out there (you know who you are fellow friends). If you have any old (or new) wine boxes or crates from packaged gifts or festive treats, turn them into a memorable keepsake by filling the box half way up with sand and then securely pushing in either chunky block or tapered candles. This makes for a perfect source of light for your candle lit dinner – bright, yet romantic. Let's face it, only one candle to eat by usually means a nice little spaghetti stain is on the cards.

As with all candles though, please don't leave them unattended. And never play with fire. Unless you have a dragon tattoo.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Crafty DIY : Twenty Minute Table

This was easy peasy, just the way I like it. I didn’t have a plan, so I just winged it. And it turned out fine, just the way I like. Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t always work out this easy. I am a constant optimist about how much time a project will take. This time, I even surprised myself. No kidding, this table took only twenty minutes to build from scratch.

So if you have a space that needs filling and are looking to make a table, listen up. If not, simply marvel at what can be achieved in twenty minutes and go make something happen with your spare twenty minutes.  To start, measure your space and decide the size of your table. This one was 130cm by 50cm. I mention this because the width took exactly five 10cm planks of wood, worth bearing mind whilst buying wood as it means no extra sawing.

Then measure you planks to the correct length, mark with a pencil and saw off the excess. On a flat surface, line them up, nice side face up and cut two lengths of wooden batons to size, slightly smaller than the width. You will then need to carefully put these under the shorter edges of your planks and whilst carefully holding them all tight together, screw these in from above, leaving enough room on the edge to attach the legs so that they don’t show. Add another baton in the middle should you need it for stability.

Next, carefully turn the table top over and cut your legs to size. I used the leftovers from the wood used for the top, sawing a smidge off so that the table fits perfectly under the window. Screw the legs into the horizontal batons at the edge where you left a space (you left a space right?) and to make it a little more sturdy, turn the table back up the right way and attach a brace to the legs each side with any old wood you happen to have lying around. To get the braces the same height, simply use another piece of wood underneath when attaching each brace so that it will raise your brace off the ground the same distance each time.

If you beat my time of twenty minutes, congratulations, you earn respect! Now you just need to paint, stain or varnish and you’re done. I was going to white wash this table, but decided I quite liked it natural, so it will stay like this until I choose a colour varnish I fancy. I wanted to make a table because we just used the space as a dumping ground for wellies and empty wine bottles and the litter tray for the kids was never nice to sit next to whilst eating dinner. So I made a curtain for the front. I kind of cheated as my sewing machine needs fixing. I cut up an old curtain bottom and safety pinned along the top to make a tab which I then threaded with curtain wire and fixed it to the underside of the table top. There’s a little gap on the left which allows the cat entry to his, now private, commode.  The cat’s happy, I’m happy now it’s all neat and tidy in this corner and the other half is happy because he wasn’t pestered to make a table, I managed it all on my own J

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

No Words Needed

Please be patient with me, I'm going to try something new...without words. I have been inspired by a few other bloggers out there and as part of a belated new year resolution to take more photos (not just crafts and DIY, I mean pretty things, things that take your breath away or just make you chuffed to be alive), I'm going to add a photo here each week under the post title No Words Needed. So, here's the first one (with words as I'm introducing it, so this doesn't count). I'll only list what it is and where it is, hopefully inspiring a few people to visit beautiful Kent along the way or to create their own No Words Needed posts. Let's face it, pictures say so much more.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Sun Room with a Splash of Red

Good morning folks, here’s another peek at what we have been doing with the house. This room was exciting because it only needed a new lick of white on the walls and all the window frames painting, so we started in here first. After our guests had left, our very first night in this house was spent in this very room taking those stunning green curtains down (which may or may not become bunting one day...) and putting on that virgin coat of paint which began the redecoration marathon that ensued.

The floor had very nice white fake stone tiles which were in pretty good nick, but seeing as this is where we usually eat if we're on our own, a shaggy rug to keep our feet toasty warm was a must. This little number came from ebay for £3. The dining set we already had (another ebay job) which actually took up most of our lounge/diner in the last house. I love this set because it's smaller than your average farmhouse dining table and provides quite an intimate dining experience.


As you all know, I like to get a little creative/messy in my spare time, so the oil cloth cover is a new addition to protect the table top from the odd glue mishap. Shame it won't stop me glueing my fingers together. We haven't found the iron yet to smooth out those creases...we hate ironing, so those creases may not venture far. I can live with that. The seat cushions don't quite fit, but we already owned them and they were the right colour, so this is their new home for now. We added several little lamps which make the room feel snug and cosy in the cold evenings. Luckily, it's a solid roof, so we can use this room all year round.

The windows look out onto the garden from each side of the sunroom and we wanted to make the most of them and so instead of replacing the curtains, we put up a few budget blinds which still allow the light in.  We had quite a few red accessories from the last kitchen, which I'm pleased to say have found a space out here in this cheery room. And the finishing touch...I'm not normally a fan of fake flowers, but I am loving the vibrancy of these tulips which never fail to make me smile when I peer out here in the morning through eyes dusted with sleep. They almost convince me that it's spring already. But then my feet start to become numb because I forgot to put my old gal slippers on and the illusion dissipates as I realise that I can see my own breath in the chill.


Ah, now, the last photo, you will notice that it looks a little naked in the corner. That's ok, as with all nakedness, it won't last long in these temperatures. At the weekend I made us a wooden table, which only took 20 minutes! I measured it exactly to fit this spot so that it can take a lamp and a few candles. Plus we get to store our dwindling wine collection underneath (nice) and hide a litter tray too (not so nice). So I just need to fix up a make shift curtain before I take the photos to show you. Twenty Minute Table - sounds catchy right?

Friday, 17 February 2012

Crafty DIY : Pin Cushion Jar

That hugely talented seamstress friend I have over at Sakura Designs? Well, she has done it again - creating another little stunner of a project. This time, thanks to me not yet finding my sewing kit, she has tied me over with a gorgeous little jar filled with a selection of sewing staples, oh and a pin cushion built into the lid! This is not only cute, but is a very handy size to carry around with you for projects.

The original idea came from here which is great for a visual step-by-step. Basically you glue a little circle of fabric  around the lid of your chosen jar and decorate as you see fit (I love this string of flowers). Next make another circle and sew around the edge, pulling tight and adding a little padding before you close it completely and tie it off. Glue this padded bun to the underside of the lid. The original tutorial shows the pin cushion on the outside, but either works very well.

Secure the bun with something heavy to allow the glue to dry securely and whilst you wait, fill your little jar with sewing essentials - colourful pins, needles, a few cottons and I was lucky enough to be given a few sparkly buttons and fabric flowers. This is such a good idea for a present, perhaps for Mothering Sunday or a stocking filler at Christmas - very handy for students too as it ensures they have the basics for darning socks (does anyone still do that?) and fixing a shirt button for that all important first job interview.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Recipe : Gluten Free Spinach & Feta Muffins

I have recently been experimenting with gluten free flour because I’m not great with wheat. Some folks don’t mind the bloat and like to boast a bump the size of a full term child for comedy value. I prefer not to roll around like a constipated womble and so tend to avoid bread and pasta and suchlike. But I had a little free time this weekend and so made a few goodies for a vegetarian party for next weekend and thought I might partake in a little gluten free chemistry. This was one of the treats I created – feta and spinach muffins and they were pretty darn tasty.

Don’t worry if they don’t tend to rise, I think that’s the gluten free thing going on and the weight of the spinach. There’s a reason why Popeye was so muscly. Putting a fork laden with cooked spinach to your mouth every meal must really work those biceps. These savoury cup cakes are still very tasty, just a little heavier than usual muffins. But you could always go for plain old flour and be done with it, bloat or no bloat.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Crafty DIY : Wooden Bench with Hessian Cushions

Well, here it is! What you have all been waiting for… the great big reveal. May I present to you The Bench. The Bench, handmade by my Dad and the newest addition to our dining room - which turned out to be the missing piece. As soon as it was painted and popped in place, the room seemed to take a big contented sigh as though this room was complete now. Or maybe that was me sighing.

So here’s a massive ‘thank you’ going out to my mate in France, who has created another beautiful one off. This bench is not a quick job, but I think you’ll agree totally worth the love as it has a storage compartment under the seat and is about as robust as my tank proof gate (more on than later). I think I am correct in saying that the frame was built first with the front and back panels being measured, cut and put in place. Next came the seat, which was attached with hinges onto a back baton so that the seat can be lifted and will rest when leaning back. Then the side panels were shaped and attached to the ends as the finishing touch.



I didn’t have much to spend on cushions, so whilst picking up some sand for the garden, I spotted these empty hessian sand bags for 99p. I simply cut out a floral design I found on Google images and used the stencils (two different sizes) to print the hessian sacks. You can find out how to make your own sturdy stencils here. I was out of fabric paint, but white satin works just as well. Next I removed the string tie and used this to sew the ends shut, once the sack was filled with a little shallow padding borrowed from an old square cushion.


I originally designed it to have hearts carved into the back, but the other half, who is getting a little weary of all the hearts that come into the house, put his foot down once more, which is fair enough I think. We painted it with a watery white wash (one part emulsion to three parts water) and once adorned with cushions, she was ready to take her place in our shabby chic dining room. Except there’s nothing shabby about this bench. The cat seemed to approve pretty much instantly, refusing to hop down whilst I took photos.


And here you have it. We love it so much, we’ve been racing each other to sit on it each night, which is fairly ridiculous as it seats about ten people. Okay, maybe four, but that’s not bad for when we have guests. Now I just need to persuade my old mate to help out with my latest brain scheming project – a pallet wood sofa and matching chairs for the back garden!


Linking up at the party over at The Girl Creative!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Crafty DIY : Wallpaper Wrapping Paper

I’m sure we all have those days near the end of the month when the spare pennies will only just about cover a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine, I mean milk. Or you might have forgotten to wrap a present for your evening out straight after work. Or you might be plain bored with the selection of sun bleached, dreary wraps in the local post office. Hang on a moment – was that a light bulb that just flashed? All these problems can be solved for free with one quick trip to your nearest DIY depo.

Venture into the wallpaper section and check around for the already opened rolls of paper and tear off small sections as you are usually allowed to take samples of wallpaper home with you. Don’t take the mickey though, keep the strips to less than 50cm to leave lots left for others and it just seems indecent to open a new roll, so some scruples are needed here folks. The quality of the paper is usually lovely and thick with glorious colours and patterns; you never know, you might just be inspired to create a feature wall in your home. Pretty shapes within the design such as flowers can be cut out and attached with double sided sticky tape for a pretty decoration. Extra bonus points for making gift tags from the paint swatch cards.