Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Etsy Treasury # 2

Thought you might like to have a look at this Etsy BNS  treasury that I've been featured in as a member of the Crafting For The Hell Of It team.
 Please stop by to check out and hopefully favourite our treasury, items and shops. 
There are many gorgeous, handcrafted and unique goodies to be found. 

Friday, 24 May 2013

The finger knitted 'rug'

One of the crafts that I recently taught our Year 3 and 4 children was four-finger finger-knitting. I used the finger knitting how-to from flax & twine and the results were amazing!
As with most things, some children got the hang of it straight away, while others needed a bit more help. However, they were soon teaching each other and asking for wool to take home so that they could show their families. Even our most football crazy 'laddish' lads were producing long, long lengths of bright, woolly wonder! 
So, what to make with all this work?
Well the answer came again from the inspirational Anne Weil at flax & twine with the hula-hoop rug.

I cut up a t-shirt 'donated' by my husband to make the 'warp spokes' of the rug.

The children were all keen to have a go at the weaving although they needed careful watching to make sure they kept it correct. I didn't want them to be disappointed if it all fell apart when we cut the spokes!

I took the weaving home to finish off by cutting and tying the spokes. I found that the larger the rug got the more it began to pucker and curl. To counteract this I had to push the weaving (the weft) down the spokes (the warp) towards the centre. This resulted in a flatter, thicker rug with a much smaller circumference, as you can see.

The children found it hilarious that their anticipated rug was now no more than a mat! Luckily they were still impressed and pleased with the results and the 'rug' takes pride of place in our 'quiet corner'. 

Thursday, 23 May 2013

My own little time capsule.

For my birthday, yesterday, my daughter bought me a lovely little book called 'Q&A a day', which is a five year journal with a difference.

For every day of the year there is a question for you to answer, and you answer the same question on the same day for the next five years. So, as the years go by you can see how your tastes, achievements and dreams change - or stay the same :)
It's such a dinky little book too with an old fashioned feel and gold edging to the pages.
The questions vary from the mundane - 'What time did you go to bed last night?' - to the obscure - 'Who are you fooling?'
So what deep and meaningful question, in this turbulent, uncertain time that we live in, would I be asked on my birthday? Carefully opening the book to keep it as pristine as possible, there it was - 

'What's your salary?'

Now if that's not a kick up the bum to make some changes I don't know what is!!

If you like the book it's published by Potter Style. I'm not being paid to endorse anything here, just passing on a fun item that I think you might like too :)

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

It's my birthday!! Should I celebrate?

Yeah, I turned 49 today! 

I wasn't sure if it was something to celebrate or not as we have had our toughest year yet, financially. However last week everything turned on it's head. My husband, Malcolm, was offered a job out of the blue after three years out of work following redundancy! He was shortlisted for the post a while ago but was unsuccessful, only to be given a second chance when the original appointee handed in his notice. 
Anyhoo, my onetime teacher husband is now working for the County Council cutting grass, emptying bins etc. and is as happy as Larry (whoever he is!)

Other reasons to celebrate?

We will have been married 22 years on Saturday, still together 'every step of the way!'
We are bringing Sam home from uni on Saturday for the summer.
Bethany is off to uni too in September, finally following her dream.
Tom, our youngest, makes us laugh daily.
I have an interview for a new job next month. 
We are all fit and well (apart from the usual aches and pains!) including my Mum who had heart surgery a year ago.

Yeah, ok, so I'll celebrate, lol!!

Friday, 17 May 2013

'Art and clart'

I wanted to share a couple of the fab desk tidy creations from the children that I work with. As a Teaching Assistant I have recently been running a craft afternoon with Years 3 and 4 which has been great fun as I love a bit of 'art and clart'!
Trying to find ideas to suit all abilities and both girls and boys is no mean feat, but I found loads of inspiration online!

This castle is a collaboration between two Y4 boys inspired by the one here http://www.redtedart.com/2012/08/20/kids-crafts-castle-desk-tidy/ 
They worked so well together, and didn't argue once!

I love the addition of a bottom compartment for paper on this colourful tidy. This was a very popular design inspired by the awesome Amy at Mod Podge Rocks! http://modpodgerocksblog.com/2013/03/recycled-craft-diy-desk-organizer.html 
It's amazing what a bit of left over wrapping paper or wallpaper can do. Many of the children came up with their own innovative designs of course, but I'm afraid I didn't get time to photo them all before they took them home to try out! I really must remember to get clicking with the camera more often, it's one of my biggest blogging downfalls!

Have you had any great successes (or failures!) with children's crafts? Keep an eye out for other posts on my attempts to inspire - the finger knitted 'rug' coming soon!!  

Friday, 10 May 2013

Olive bread (and the best ever bacon sarnies!)

I've been meaning to post about my olive bread for some time but we keep eating it before I can take a photo of the finished product!
This is the 'nuddy end' of the last one I made - and our dog, Angel, showing a great interest!

The reason this bread disappears so quickly is that it makes such delicious bacon sarnies. Warm bread, drippy butter, sauce or mayo and hot bacon - mmmmm -it's a heavenly (if not healthy) combination!
You can, of course, use yours in any way you see fit. This is a very forgiving and adaptable recipe.


450g/1lb strong white bread flour, plus more for dusting
half tsp caster sugar
1 tsp sea salt
half tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing
half tbsp/1 sachet of instant yeast (I've used 7g sachets in the past, use what you have)
approx. 300mls/half pint hand-warm water


Add all the ingredients to the bowl, mix well with a knife and then knead until smooth and elastic.

This can be done for 6 mins in a food processor using the dough hook, or by hand for as long as you can be bothered. As my food processor has now blown up I hand knead - and don't last for much longer than 6 mins anyway before I get tired/bored!
Put into a bowl large enough for the dough to treble in size. Brush the dough with olive oil and cover the bowl with cling film. Leave in a cool place to rise for approx. 2 hours. 

Now for my favourite bit! 'Knock down' the dough by punching it in the middle.

Take the moist, sticky dough from the bowl and knead for a minute. Push and stretch the dough to fill a swiss roll tin. I stretch it initially by holding it up and letting its weight do the work a bit like a pizza.

You can press your finger tips into the dough to dimple it then brush again with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
Leave to prove for a further hour before baking in a pre-heated oven at 240C/465F/gas8-9
For some reason my oven cuts out at this temp. so I actually bake mine at 200C (fan oven)
and it's fine.
Adapt your recipe by using onions, cheese, olives, herbs etc. on top. I'm sure this would make great pizza dough too, although I really would recommend those bacon sarnies!!

Friday, 3 May 2013


This is the scrumptious pie that my husband, Malcolm, made a few weeks ago. It's a pistachio and cranberry pork pie from the BBC Good Food website and tastes delicious!
I had bought some pork mince because it was reduced, stuck it in the freezer and then couldn't decide what to make with it. We also had some frozen cranberries and a packet of pistachio nuts left over from Christmas, so when I found this recipe I knew we were onto a winner. The only flaw in my plan was that I hadn't made hot water crust pastry before! Now, I enjoy cooking and have many favourite family meals in my repertoire but I can be a bit of a wimp when trying new things. Malcolm , however, has less qualms about this so I was happy for him to hijack my pie plans!

There was plenty pie for four of us for two days. As you can see we had it cold with salad and also with pickles. My daughter, Bethany, rated this pie and she's not really a fan of pastry, cranberries or nuts in savoury dishes!