57. Valentine Card

Some days crafty things just don’t go right. I was full of enthusiasm to make some Valentines cards and had found one online that I thought I would have a try at making.

Take a look at this one

Gorgeous and relatively simple, I thought.

Not so fast…

I gathered the equipment together

and marked out the lettering.

Then I carefully cut around the solid lines and folding at the dashed lines.  This took a while.  I was engrossed in listening to Danny Baker on the radio that was mistake number 1! I wasn’t concentrating on the card and glued the wrong side of the cut out piece:

How can I fix this? – mistake number 2. I should have put it in the bin at this point.  I decided to put glitter on the glue and make it look like I meant to cover the front with glue.

The pot of glitter had not been opened before and was covered in tape. I took much too long trying to get it open – mistake number 3. By the time I had finally got into the glitter the glue was almost dry.

But I carried on – mistake number 4. Glued it to the card and found that I had cut the heart too big so it didn’t fold properly – mistake number 5.

At this point I decided to try making a different card.

This one is much simpler.

Cut 2 hearts the same size from some pretty paper. The picture below shows enough for 3 cards.

Here comes mistake number 6.  I had drawn the heart shape on the reverse of the design and found when I turned it over that I had missed the design in some places – the white stripes in the picture above.

Stick one heart to the front of the card.

Then stitch the matching sized heart on top of this one.

If you look closely you will see mistake number 7.  I accidentally got some purple pen marks on the large top heart and had to disguise it by going around the whole heart with a purple outline.

As I made these 3 cards, I refined the method.  On the last one, I glued some tissue paper to the reverse side of the top heart which hid the print on the underside.

I also made mistake number 8…as I was finishing off the stitches on one of the cards, I snipped off the thread too close to the card and cut off the knot I had carefully made to secure the stitching so the inside has a loose end.  If I had more time and wasn’t making so many mistakes today, I would cover the stitching on the inside with another layer of card in a contrasting colour but I’m going to stop while I’m ahead.

February 14, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Paper, recycled. 1 comment.

50. Italian Nut and Chocolate Christmas Cake

Make number 50 already!  I can’t believe the year has gone so fast.

This week I’ve made Italian Nut and Chocolate Christmas Cake.  I don’t remember where the recipe came from originally but I’ve been making this version for at least 10 years.

It serves 10-12 and you will need a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin. (Or as I’ve done this year, 2 x 20cm regular cake tins)

  • 450g of nuts (I use hazelnuts and walnuts.  This year I didn’t have quite enough so made up the balance with pecans)
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 5 drops of vanilla essence
  • 65ml brandy
  • 1 level teaspoon cinnamon
  • 25g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • Finely chopped zest of 1 large orange
  • Unsalted butter and breadcrumbs to prepare the tin/s.

Preheat the oven to 180/350/gas 4.  Line the cake tin with greaseproof or baking parchment, then lightly grease this with a little unsalted butter.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Like this:

Whiz nuts and chocolate in a food processor or liquidiser until they are finely chopped but not ground. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in vanilla, brandy, cinnamon, butter and sugar.

Beat the egg yolks with a fork and then blend them in a little at a time to the mixture.

Add the finely chopped orange zest.

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff peaks and then fold these into the mixture gently a little at a time.

Pour mixture into one or two already prepared cake tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 mins for two tins or around 75 mins for one tin.  Test the cake by sticking a cocktail stick in the centre.  If it comes out without cake mix on it, the cakes are ready. (It will likely have melted chocolate on it, that is ok).

Rest the cakes for a five minutes in the tins, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

You can either store the well wrapped cakes in the fridge for 2 weeks or freeze them.

Dust with icing sugar and its ready.

December 20, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Food & Drink. Leave a comment.

33. Pear and Cinnamon Muffins

This summer has brought us a fantastic glut of fruit in the garden.  This week it is pears.  The trees can barely hold them all and I’m wondering how to best use them.

Today I thought I’d make a start and do some baking.  I’ve only used 3 pears in this recipe which has made absolutely no difference to the basket full but luckily we’ve had a few visitors who have taken a bag or two each.

This muffin recipe is tried, tested and very easy. It is also perfect to adapt to whatever you happen to have at hand.  In the past I’ve used apples, walnuts, blueberries, blackberries, pecans, coffee  (not all at once, of course.)

You will need:

3 cups of plain flour

1 cup soft brown sugar

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

3 medium pears – skinned and chopped small

2 eggs – beaten

1 cup yoghurt (I use home made low fat yoghurt)

1 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Topping –  a mixture of rolled oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped nuts

Oven: Gas 4 / 175 / 350

12 – 18 muffin cases and muffin pan/s

Sift first 6 ingredients together and stir in the chopped pear.

In another bowl or jug, whisk eggs, yoghurt, oil, and vanilla.

Lightly stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients.  It will be lumpy with some streaks of flour.

Fill the muffin cases about 2/3 full.

Mix together whatever topping ingredients you are using and sprinkle over the muffins.For these muffins I used a very small amount of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

August 24, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . Food & Drink. 2 comments.

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