Monthly Archives: January 2014

Popcorn addiction

I love popcorn.  I pop it myself and just eat it plain – this once got me odd looks when I took a big bowl to a shared lunch at work.  My manager shares the obsession though and recently ordered some sweet and salt stuff for the visitor centre shop.  I was buying so much of it the visitors never got a look in, so I thought to be fair to them, and my purse, I would make my own.

I also love maple syrup, especially since our fab holiday to Ontario last autumn, the cupboards are full of it.  And using maple syrup has got to be healthier than using golden syrup. It’s a natural product, right? Right? Ha ha, anyone who knows me knows I have such a sweet tooth and I am just not interested in the current media craze for removing sugar from my diet.

Perfect for my ‘Rizzoli and Isles’ fest last night, and snacking on at work the next day…

Pop!

Pop!

The ingredients for deliciousness

The ingredients for deliciousness

Ready to go in the oven
Ready to go in the oven

Mmmmm

Mmmmm

And munch!

And munch!

There wasn’t a recipe as such, I did various internet searches and cobbled together something myself.  If you want to recreate it:

  1. Turn the oven on to 160C.
  2. Put 1tbsp of oil in a pan and heat up. Make sure it’s one where the lid fits properly – a glass lid helps too. Add 2 tbsp of corn and shake the pan.  Wearing oven gloves, hold the lid on and keep shaking until the popping is done.
  3. Pour the popcorn onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
  4. Break up a handful of pecan nuts, or any other nuts you like, and sprinkle these over the popcorn.
  5. Wipe out the pan (I am all about avoiding the washing up!) and add about 1tbsp of butter or vegetable oil (don’t use olive oil, it has too much taste), about 1tsp of vanilla extract and 75ml maple syrup.
  6. Let the whole lot melt together and even let it boil for a couple of minutes.
  7. Pour the syrup over the popcorn and quickly mix it to coat it as much as possible.
  8. Put into the oven for about 8-10 minutes. I kept opening the oven to check it wasn’t burning, so maybe 8 minutes would be best if you don’t do this.
  9. If you like the mix of sweet and salt you can sprinkle over a little sea salt.
  10. Let it cool (if you can, I couldn’t but can report no burns!) and enter snack heaven.

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Pinstripe Pintuck

I have joined the Sew Crazy Challenge from Crazy Little Projects! At school I always had my homework done in plenty of time (yes, that was me, I am the geek who loved to learn), but this doesn’t seem to be the case now.  As an adult with a full time job doing your homework, however fun, takes a while.  I chose to do the pintuck pouch, because I think this kind of thing could make a great present (Christmas challenge 2014 anyone?!) and I had never put in a zip before.  The instructions for this were on another site, Simple Simon and Company.

I didn’t want to buy fabric specially for this so I used some flowery stuff I had from other projects, and cut up an old shirt that was going to charity.  This shirt creases like a bitch, I am so glad I never do the ironing.  Having pinstripes that just happen to be the same distance apart as the lines for the pintuck? Very helpful.  Anyway, I then got really stuck! I just could not work out how the fabric-zip-fabric sandwich should work.  I’ve never put in a zip, and was obviously having some kind of logic block where I needed some severe instructional hand holding.  I went back to Crazy Little Projects pencil case instructions and they showed me photos of inbetween stages so I finally got it.  I was so thrilled I forgot to take photos until the last step though!

I finally got the zip in!

I finally got the zip in!

This is by no means perfect – my zip was shorter than called for in the pattern so I had to do some trimming down near the end which made one end of the zip look a bit messy, and as I said the fabric creases too easily to look really smart on the outside.  Overall though I am pretty happy with it, and I’ve learnt a couple of useful new skills.  And found my zipper foot.

Pintuck pouch

I actually had to take this to work to get any decent enough light to photograph it in!

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When life gives you lemons…

Actually I bought the lemons in my weekly shop with a plan to make limoncello whilst Mr Han was away skiing, but I was so busy with work I never got round to it – and then he came home with a bottle as a present for me from Italy! I don’t think I need two bottles of it and I kept looking at those lemons… I made a lemon drizzle cake but that hardly made a dent in the pile so I thought I’d make some lemon curd.  I didn’t want masses of the stuff because it doesn’t really keep, so I used the recipe from the back of Rachel Allen’s book Bake to make about 250ml.

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It totally looked like custard in the pan!  I wasn’t sure when it was done, you know how everything looks more liquid hot?  I also have previous with getting impatient with things that need to be cooked slowly and me ending up burning them… But it all turned out ok, I filled a jar up and used the rest to fill a cake I’d made for work.  This was judged by a true lover of lemon curd (apparently my manager can just eat it with a spoon!) and pronounced very nice. So when life gives you lemons, make lemon curd.
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Filed under In the kitchen, Preserves

Dinosaur fun!

I have been having a lot of fun at work this morning (on my lunch break right now!) using mod rock! I’d never used this before, not being arty, but discovered some in the back of a cupboard during a clear out.  My colleagues developed a Dinosaur themed birthday party for the reserve that ends with a dino dig for the children, so we thought we’d add to our props by making some big old bones….

ImageImage

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Filed under Other crafts

Acornucopia

What to do as the first project in the Han Cave?  I thought a present for its creator was in order.  I also haven’t yet coughed up a second wedding anniversary present, oops.  This is meant to be cotton, so I thought I’d try out something on the machine.  I got this amazing fabric – acorns are kind of a thing for us, we partially chose our wedding venue because of the huge 600 year old oak tree in the grounds, and the men’s buttonholes all included acorns – so I thought it was perfect. It is actually called Acornucopia too, I do like a nice play on words.

Acornucopia

I thought that a pair of pajama bottoms might be within possibility as the ones I had seen on Crazy Little Projects looked do-able, but I had a look around the internet as well and ended up using this one.  All I had to do was draw around an existing pair of pjs!  It was pretty easy, and I gave myself a bit more of a seam allowance then they recommended because I was a bit nervous.

Seams

I can’t remember where I read it but I saw someone had done the edges of their seams with pinking shears, so I did that as I am basically too lazy to do them any other way, and don’t have a machine to do it. yes, I did bother to iron my seams flat! After years of not touching the iron, the sewing has made me do it… All went smoothly, even putting one leg inside the other to sew the crotch together!  Only hiccup was when the cat had to be removed from the room for biting the tape measure and the waist elastic…

I guess that I didn’t need such wide seam allowances, or I just stretched out the ones I “measured” from too far, because they turned out super wide leg.  Oh well, they are for lounging in so at least they will be comfy.  Next time I would slim the legs down a bit though. They were waiting on the wardrobe for when he got back from his ski trip and he loved the acorns. I have quite a lot left so I wonder what else will pop up with acorns on?!

The Finished Product!

The Finished Product!

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Welcome to the Han Cave

I am lucky enough to live in a truly beautiful Victorian house, and I always end up describing it by starting with “well it’s quite an odd house…”, by which I mean it has lots of strange rooms in addition to the ones you would expect.  Some of the downstairs windowsills are also level with the ground, so we have a vole’s eye view of the churchyard next door!  Anyway, the point of this rambling is that we have a mezzanine level reached by a ladder which we have turned into a little study and that leaves our third “bedroom” for me to do something with… It isn’t really big enough for a bed, unless you are a toddler, and I don’t have one of those. I had mused casually on several occasions that it would make a great craft room and then forgot about it.

One weekend I came home from work to find my husband looking very pleased with himself and was ushered upstairs and shown a room cleared of boxes, with my favourite knitting chair in the corner and a rug on the floor.  He had done the hard work to make it into my craft room!  I did a bit of organising and put all the felting stuff in one floral box and all my sewing bits and fabrics in a clear one. I also ordered a table from Amazon to put in the window and put my sewing machine on.  It’s just a fold up table meant for camping I think, but it is so sturdy and fits in the tiny room.  I am ridiculously excited about this room.  I know that it’s nothing compared to all the amazing and beautiful craft rooms people blog about all over the internet, but it’s mine.  And the window has the best view in the house, right across the valley. The cat is very keen on the table in the window too.

The Han Cave

The Han Cave

Hattie's new favourite place

Hattie’s new favourite place

Somehow, this has been christened the Han Cave – as opposed to the man cave that many a shed is referred to as.

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Filed under Sewing, Uncategorized

What now?

This blog was set up to chronicle my attempts to make Christmas presents for 2013.  It happened, it’s now 2014 – but I don’t want to stop writing about the stuff I’ve been making.  Both the making and the writing have been brighter spots in a pretty awful year, and seeing as I don’t know if 2014 will be any better I don’t want to cut back on them!  There are thousands of craft blogs out there, I’ve enjoyed finding more of these too, and mine is a lot more amateur than many of them, but hopefully I can continue to find that people are reading about my experiments, successes and failures. I might even try some tutorials.

I’m not sure my blog needs a plan, or direction, I think aimless wanderings in the world of craft could be just as interesting! Personally though I do like to have a sense of purpose so I had a little think about my new year’s resolutions.  I don’t believe in traditional new year’s resolutions – who wants to give up the nicer things in life in the worst months of the year? Plus my only vices are chocolate and cake, and I have no willpower whatsoever, and can still fit in all my clothes. I want my resolutions to create rather than deny.  So, here they are:

  • I will finish the Lizard Ridge blanket that I vowed to finish as my 2013 resolution. I really will. Honest. This means I’ll have to learn a crochet edging.

    My Lizard Ridge in its current form

  • I will knit from my stash and not buy new wool. Every knitter is probably saying that right now, and it will be the hardest resolution to keep! This is linked to the fact that I need to save some money as my poor little car has 95,000 miles on the clock and may not survive another year of travelling down a bumpy nature reserve road every day. OK, I guess this one is about denial a bit.
  • I will keep trying new things – whether it is new techniques for crafts I already do, or new crafts entirely.  I was toying with a “one new thing every month” resolution but I know how work takes over my life entirely from May to August, so I think that might be unrealistic…

Keep following if you’d like to hear about it.  And please comment and share your craft related resolutions!

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