Friday, 26 September 2014

Chickpea Curry

This may look like a plate of puke, but it's actually really very delicious.  Trust me!

As often with my recipes, it is a "chuck-it-all-in-the-pan-and-hope-for-the-best" method, which seems to work well for me.    It is great for cold cooked veggies left over from the night before's dinner.

Chickpea and vegetable thai style curry.

So, chop up any veggies that need cooked - here I have courgette and mushrooms, and fry them in a little olive oil with a good teaspoon of curry powder.

Add any, already cooked, veg and beans, or chickpeas.  What I have in here now is sweetcorn, peas, pre-cooked carrots and half a large tin of drained chickpeas.

For the 'sauce' I used this cup soup mix as it is a curried base with a Thai flavouring, but any other cup soups will work just as well.

Chuck in the sachet of soup mix and add the recommended water amount (I used boiled water from the kettle) - if it is too thick you can add more water later.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins until all the veggies are heated through.

Serve with whatever you eat curry with.  I served it piled on a stuffed paratha from HDM Spice Shop in Carlisle.  Nom Nom.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Beginners Patchwork Tutorial

I have shown a few folk now how to do patchwork using pieces of paper templates.  I learnt it myself when I was quite young and have done bits on and off with it ever since.  So thought there might be someone out there who would like a quick photo guide to how it's done.

First of all choose your pattern, I would recommend you start with an easy one, like a hexagon or a triangle.   If you type Patchwork Templates into Google you will find a good few to choose from.

The next thing to do then is to print them out onto a thin card and cut out your templates - NEATLY, if they are not neat they will not go back together neat when you sew them.

Take one template and another piece of card, draw around the template about 5-10mm wider all the way around, cut this out (not using your good fabric scissors) and write "CUT" on it.  You only need one of these, this will be the piece that you cut your fabric to.

With that larger piece, place it on your fabric AT THE EDGE - I have seen way too many people plonk it in the centre of the fabric and waste loads.  Draw around it with a biro and cut it out.

Now take a smaller piece of card and place it in the middle of your fabric.  Using a bright colour thread, different to your fabric colours, put a good double knot in the end and start sewing the fabric to the card, tucking it in very neatly all the way around.  When you come to a corner, tuck it in neat too.  Use nice big stitches so they are easier to pull out later on.
Finish of with a little overstitch.

Make another.

Now put your two pieces front to front, and with a complimenting colour thread make tiny whip stitches across the top of the pieces, making sure you only catch the fabric and not the card beneath it.
Work all the way along and finish with a couple of small stitches on top of each other.

Open it up and you should barely see the stitches.

Work around your centre piece in the same way with more pieces until the centre is completely enclosed.  Don't worry about joining the sides yet as the card makes it tricky, just get the middle all joined up.

If you turn it over it should look like this.

Now, carefully, snip the large stitches in the middle piece and gently remove the card - it should just pop out.  Put this to one side to re-use again later.

Now you will find that your work will bend quite nicely, enabling you to sew up those side seams.

Now it is just a case of continuing.  'As each piece is enclosed, remove the card to make it easier to work.

What you make with your patchwork is up to you, you may go on to make a quilt, pad it, back it and bind it. Or you might wish to appliqué your work to a ready made tote bag or the back of a jacket.  The possibilities are endless.

Hope you have enjoyed this simple little lesson and I would love to see photos of your work, either email them to me at or pop a photo on my Facebook page.

If you would like to buy a starter kit with these instructions and the fabric shown in the photos, click HERE for the pack.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Crochet Teddy Bear - free pattern

Do you remember my crocheted zig-zag baby blanket?   Well, I had some yarn left so thought I would make a cuddly bear to match.

I found a pattern HERE, which is very cute and free.  Then I got to work :)

It's such a cute pattern, I might be tempted to make another one sometime  :)

And of course, Teddy matches the blanket perfectly.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

A cake for my Mum

On Wednesday it was my Mum's birthday, so a cake was needed  :)

As she has a very sweet-tooth I decided on a very sweet cake.

Toffee cake, filled with strawberry jam and buttercream, then slathered in buttercream too.

Edged with chocolate fingers and held in place with a chocolate coloured ribbon.

Then a pile of chocolate coated toffee popcorn on the top.

Want a closer look at that toffee popcorn?  Thought you did  :)

Only one candle, as there was not enough room for all of them  ;)

...and with a slice and a chomp.... it was gone!

Do you remember the previous years cakes made for her?

2013   (Victoria sponge filled with strawberry jam & vanilla buttercream. Iced with buttercream & finished with praline filled chocolate flowers & sprinkled with popping candy )

2012  (Bottom layer is vanilla Victoria sponge, the top is Bero milk chocolate cake.)

(no photos of previous cakes before that  :) )

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Ruby's new dog bed

It was 6am and I awoke to a gentle howling, not an urgent bark or deep growl, just a sound that I took to mean.. "It's time to get up you guys, it must be 9.00am at least"

Hubster offered to go as he gets up at 6.30am anyway, and we had lost our little ginger guinea pig the night before and he needed buried.

A few minutes later I felt I should get up and say goodbye to Ginger Pig, so threw on a dressing gown and wandered downstairs.

"You might not want to come in here", Hubster warned.

But, of course, I did.  I got presented with a cage full of dog poop.   Someone had obviously had a bit of a dicky tummy in the night and couldn't wait for us to get up.   It is supposed to be unheard of for a puppy to mess in it's cage, but perhaps she had been howling for a while and we hadn't heard her.

My lovely cream painted walls were pebble dashed through the bars of the cage.  Hubster was right, I really didn't want to go in at all!  So I got my hat and boots on and took her out for an early morning walk instead and left him to it.

He did a fab job of cleaning it up, leaving me to sort out the bedding - which promptly went in a bin bag and into the outside bin.  No way was I washing that!

So, a new bed was needed, and I had just the thing.

I had changed all the cushion pads in my living room cushions, but not being one to throw possible craft materials away, I had popped them in the understairs cupboard.

Just old tatty fiberfill cushion pads.  I sewed two together  (three times) making sure I shook the pad right down to the sew line I then sewed another line to keep them tight against each other.

Then sewed them all together to make a pad of 6.

Then I found some fabric I had been given ages ago.  Thicker than a sheet, more like a curtain, but with a soft brushed flannelette feel.  It was the perfect size as it was to make a cover.  

And the best thing is I can just chuck the whole thing in the washing machine  (unless it has poo on, then it is going in the bin!!)

Friday, 19 September 2014

The Reghed Knit & Stitch Show

Just last week I heard about the Reghed "Knit & Stitch" show - actually, I did hear rumours a few months ago, but forgot all about it.

So when it was mentioned again recently I mentally punched myself in the face for not organising a table.   Still, it was worth a phone call, just to see if there was room for a little one.

And there was!   Whoop  :)

So, on Sunday morning, we packed up the car and off we went,

The table was half the size we usually get, but I wanted that as I wanted to see if I could manage a little one, and we did by taking a grid-wall stand and using some boxes to lengthen the display a little.

And we got to share our "back room space" with a bloke in a Kilt ;)   aka Mainsforth Alpacas.

I didn't overload the table with packages this time, I pulled them out of boxes from underneath as people requested them.   The white tableclothes were provided and I must say, look better than my usual burgundy, so I will be investing in one of those.

Then just after lunch, Hubster returned from 'stretching his legs' to tell me they had "Veggie Scotch Eggs in the Deli".

A what??

"A Veggie Scotch Egg, but they only have one left".

Well, I nearly knocked the table over trying to get out - forgetting in the meantime to ask where the Deli even was in the building.  So I spent a good five minutes running about Mr Bean style, trying to find this elusive Scotch Egg.

As you can see, I did, and I ate it all, despite already having had my healthy, low-calorie packed lunch just an hour or so before.

Yum, next on my list of things to try and make I think  :)

All in all, a good day.  We met a good few people that follow us on Facebook  (big wave if you are reading), sold some stuff, chatted about Alpacas a lot (interesting creatures those) and made a bit of money, 10% of which was donated to The Manchester Dogs Home appeal.

Thanks for coming, if you did, and hope to see you again soon  :) 

If you have never been to Reghed, it is definitely worth a half-day out, load of things to see and do there.  It is just a few minutes drive off the M6, junction 40.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Squiddly Diddly Crochet Squid

I have been working on a new kit - a kid's comforter kit, in the shape of a squid.

Don't ask me why a squid, just the name "Squiddly Diddly" popped into my head and refused to leave.

I started making it when sitting at the Carlisle Art Fair last month.  Didn't bother writing down any instructions, but I think I can remember.  Will need to make another one anyway for the step-by-step photos.

The yarn I used is "Cotton On" by James C Brett.  It's a cotton/acrylic mix, but so soft to the touch, and not stretchy so it holds it shape well.

I used a plain shade for the head and tentacles, and a colour change one for the blanket part.

Aww, someone likes Squiddly.

So, little people can hug Squiddly, they can throw him about, they can carry him by his head, and when they are tired they can snuggle into his soft cottony texture to sleep.  But even better than that, they are able to have a new one made if Squiddly should ever get lost!  :)

Kits will be available in green (as shown), beige, lilacs and blue.  I am working on the blue one now, but here is the beige.

If you fancy having a go, you can find them HERE.

Monday, 15 September 2014

October 2014 Classes & Workshops

 October Classes

Why not come along and learn a new hobby... or two?

Peyote Stitch Beadweaving - 01/10/14(1.00-3.00pm)-£5.00
Crochet a Mandala - 02/10/14 (5.30-7.30pm) - £10.00  
Bead & Banter - 07/10/14 (5.30-7.30pm) - £5.00  (BOP)
Crystal Bracelet - 08/10/14 (1.00-3.00pm) - £10.00
Beaded Earrings - 09/10/14 (5.30-7.30pm) - £10.00  
Crochet & Craic - 13/10/14 (5.30-7.30pm) - £5.00  (BOP)
Beginners Cross Stitch - 14/10/14 (5.30-7.30pm) - £10.00
Fabric Puffed Hearts - 16/10/14 (2.00-4.00pm) - £10.00  
  Crochet & Craic - 27/10/14 (5.30-7.30pm) - £5.00  (BOP)

BOP = Bring your own project.
Hobbycraft, Carlisle. Call 01228 812362 to book.
50% non refundable deposit required on booking.  Places are limited booking is advisable

Kid's Club Classes
Halloween activities to keep little hands busy through the October Half-Term.
All class times are 10.30am-12.30pm

Mon 20th Oct - Shrink Plastic Keyring
Tues 21st Oct - Felt Bat/Pumpkin/Ghost
Wed 22nd Oct - Halloween Beaded Bangle
Thu 23rd Oct - Decopatch Lantern Jar
Fri 24th Oct - Pom Pom Spider

Mon 27th Oct - Shrink Plastic Keyring
Tues 28th Oct - Felt Bat/Pumpkin/Ghost
Wed 29th Oct - Halloween Beaded Bangle
Thu 30th Oct - Decopatch Lantern Jar
Fri 31st Oct - Pom Pom Spider

Each class is just £1.50 per child, per item.
DROP IN SESSIONS - NO NEED TO BOOK, but please arrive at least 1 hour before the end time to enable your craft to be finished.

Hobbycraft, Kingstown, Carlisle. J44 off M6

Thursday, 11 September 2014

My day in photos...

It was last November I did a "day in photos" post, so thought it was about time I did another one  :)

The day started at 7.20am, I get up with Hubster these days so Ruby doesn't need to go back in her cage after breakfast.  It's not a hard-ship, I find I get more achieved throughout the day when I have had an early start.

By 7.30am I was sitting with a brew, catching up on my Celebrity Big Brother guilty pleasure and adding a few more pieces to the patchwork project I have going on at the moment.

At 9.00am Ruby and I went for the first dog walk of the day.   When we are out we practise our home-work from Puppy Training Classes.  I have walked a figure of 8 round two trees on our local green  (teaching her to heel) so much that the grass is starting to look bare!

Here she is 'staying'.  She's a good girl.

I found a lovely piece of dried wood on the park that I simply had to take home.  No idea what I will do with it, but I needed to have it.

Home again, and my Fitbit Flex App (it's the pink band thing on my wrist in the photo above) tells me how many steps we took and how far we walked, as well as how many active minutes.  I have the lap of the greenspace and park down to 25 mins now.  As Ruby is just a pup we have to limit her to 3 lots of 30 minute walks a day.

By 10.15am I was in the supermarket, getting supplies for the evening meal.  My son, Iain, and his partner, Helena, were coming for tea.

11.00am - home again and making coleslaw (no onions) as Iain loves coleslaw, but unless it is home-made it tends to be full of onions.  I used carrots, red cabbage, radish, wholegrain mustard and mayo.

Early lunch today at 11.30am as I was ravenous for some reason.  Quorn sausage sandwich  :)

But while I was eating it I forgot the butternut squash roasting in the oven for tonight's tea.   Luckily still salvageable, well most of it.

12.00am was housework time.  I find it so hard to knuckle down and do housework when there are so many crafty things I could be getting on with.

And talking about crafty things, by 1.00pm I was photographing my new design "Squiddly Diddly", for a blog post.  This cute little squid is a child's 'comforter' toy, and will be available as a kit very soon - as soon as I have written up the pattern that is.

At 2.00pm I was sitting down at my computer putting together a class list for November.  I take a break from teaching in December and a bit of January so I needed to get the popular classes squeezed in before then. and yes, you can still see the protective covering on my laptop screen.  I have a thing about leaving them as long as possible.  Must be about 18 months old now  :)

At 3.00pm, in-between writing the class list, I got distracted and drew some Halloween figures onto Shrink Plastic, these will be samples for my Half Term Kid's Club which will be held at Hobbycraft, Carlisle, in October.

By 4.00pm I decided I had had enough time at the computer and wandered downstairs to prepare the dinner for the evening.  Butternut squash (burnt) and mushroom enchiladas for myself, and chicken enchiladas for the carnivores.

By 5.15pm it was time for another little dog trot.   When will Ruby learn that pulling my socks off as fast as I put them on is not a good way of getting out of the house in quick time?

At 5.30pm it's play time on the field.  There is nothing she likes better than to play and run, and get tangled up in the extendable lead.   Have you ever tried to grab an extendable lead as the dog runs?   If not, DON'T, it really blooming well hurts and gives you a very nasty friction burn.

 6.00pm back home again and my Fitbit Flex app now tells me that I have hit my targets for steps and active minutes today, so I feel I have earned a glass or two of wine tonight now  :)

6.30pm and Iain and Helena turn up for dinner.  They get treated to a barrage of animals all wanting attention before they can eat though.

At 8.00pm after dinner, which was lovely by the way, Helena was admiring my patchwork project so I offered to give her a quick lesson. 

She quickly got hooked and they left at 10.30pm with an armful of fabric, needles and thread  :)

11.00pm.  Bedtime.  It's been a long day.