Saturday, 30 March 2013

Scrap Easter Eggs - quick tutorial

A while ago, I made a couple of soft decorative Easter eggs. I wasn't hugely enamoured with the way they turned out, but I am going to post the tutorial anyway! 



What you need:
Scraps of fabric
Ribbon, ricrac or other trim
Buttons, sequins if required
Toy stuffing or some wadding


How to:

1. Find an egg shaped template, online or make your own approximation like I have by using a salad server, drawing round it on some scrap cardboard to make a template. You will need to do a bit of freehand drawing as well. Don't make it too small and fiddly.
 
2.Cut the egg shape out.
3. Iron your scrap pieces that you will use and gather them together in colour groups that will work well together. I chose to have two pieces of fabric for each egg, but you could use more.

4. Roughly cut two pieces of fabric, so that the cardboard egg template will fit on them.  Initially, I left mine as two rectangles  Place right sides of the fabric together and sew across. Press open the seam with an iron.
5. This is what your fabric should look like{on the wrong side} before shaping to the template. Draw around the egg template with a pencil or tailors chalk and cut the fabric leaving a seam allowance of 1/2cm. Do steps 3 to 5 again so you end up with two egg pieces - it is up to you whether you want them the same back and front or different.
6. If using, place the ribbon or ricrac aross the join and stitch. Place the two fabric pieces right sides together, pin and sew, leaving a gap for turning. Trim the seams and turn the right way round. Stuff, using a knitting needle or pencil to get it right to the end. By hand, sew up the gap.

Happy Easter!
Love Mrs Jones x


Friday, 29 March 2013

Signs of Spring 2013

Beautiful weather for Good Friday although a little cold. So, I took the opportunity to photograph some elements of my garden to see how things are progressing. The grass needs a damn good cut, but the plants, although a little unruly are doing well in our clay soil.

My hydrangea {potted} has some lovely green buds, the Euphorbia is beginning to show its acid green heads, but the rhubarb looks terrible. Surely I should have more than this? Admittedly, I haven't put a cloche over it, but I couldn't even pick one stalk!

Are you planning to do anything in your garden over this Easter weekend?

Love Mrs Jones x



Monday, 25 March 2013

Hot Cross Buns

I rarely make bread, but I really wanted to have a go at some Hot Cross Buns this Easter. I read two recipes: one from an old Good Housekeeping recipe book and one from Nigella's Feast and have combined the two to get the desired result.
I know that the cross is barely discernible but I will get to that later. This recipe gives you a soft bun which is neither too sweet or too spicy. If you do like it spicy, increase the amounts of cinnamon and mixed spice a little. Nigella adds cardamom pods and ground ginger to hers, but I didn't fancy those flavours.

Ingredients:
For the bun:
7g sachet of dried yeast
175ml milk 
350g strong white plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
A little grated nutmeg
50g butter
25g caster sugar
75g currants
25g mixed peel (optional) If not using, increase the currants to 100g
1 egg beaten

For the cross: 
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water

For the glaze:
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp boiling water

Method
 
1. Sift in the flour, spices and salt.

2. Rub in the butter until well combined.

3. Add the sugar and currants, and peel if using, and also the sachet of yeast.

4. Make a well in the centre of the bowl and add the milk and beaten egg. Mix to form a dough.

5. Flour the work surface and knead the dough for about 8 minutes. The dough should be elastic and have a smooth appearance.

6. Put a little flavourless oil in a bowl. When you put your dough in this bowl, dip it in the oil so that it has a light covering and then place some clingfilm over the bowl {I got this little tip from Lesley Orr}. Put it in a warm place to rise - this could be a window sill or airing cupboard. 

7. The dough needs to double in size and should take around 1 1/2 hours to do so.

8. When ready, knock down the dough and knead for a couple of minutes. Pinch off equal pieces. This recipe will make around 24 small hot cross buns. If you want to increase their size, please do but you will need to allow a little extra cooking time.

9. Make each piece a rough ball shape and place on an oiled baking sheet. Do this with each piece. Leave to rise for another 30 minutes on the trays.

10. Preheat the oven to 190C.

11. Make a cross on each bun with a sharp knife. Make up the cross mixture and dribble it into the cross. 

12. Bake for 15 minutes - they may need a little longer depending on your oven.

13. Next, make up the sugar glaze. Turn the buns onto a baking sheet and liberally brush with the glaze. 

Love Mrs Jones x

PS. I do wonder whether it would have been better to have cut the cross before the second rise which would have made a larger cross to dribble the cross mixture in to. Even my neatest crosses cannot be seen!




Saturday, 23 March 2013

Nursing the sick

I have not had a moment to blog this week as yet again I have a house full of sick people! Well, when I say a houseful I mean my youngest, Fred and now my husband. They have both got a nasty flu like chest infection with temperatures up and then down and then up again! I am trying to avoid catching it as I had a bad year with minor illnesses last year.

So, I have been pumping them with fresh fruit salad, soups and multivitamins. Even me and my eldest son are popping vitamins in a bid to ward this infection off.

I have my fingers crossed that we will be rid of it by Easter!

Love Mrs Jones x

Monday, 18 March 2013

Easter Biscuits


I know its not Easter for another couple of weeks, but I love the sights and smells of Easter, and the thought that Spring and longer days are almost here. It seems a long time since I made Easter biscuits, I certainly don't remember doing a post about them before. The commercial Easter biscuits are enormous compared to my digestive sized biscuits, but that is just an excuse to have two of them.

Ingredients:
100g butter
75g caster sugar plus a little more for sprinkling on the top
1 egg {separated}
200g plain flour
Either 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon and ground mixed spice or a few drops of Cassia oil
50g currants
30ml {2 tbsp} milk

Oven at 200C you will also need a couple of greased baking trays

Method:
1. Beat the sugar and butter until soft and creamy, then add the egg yolk {reserve the egg white for later}. Beat again. Now I have that JLS song in my head!

2. Sift the flour into the bowl and add the spices and a pinch of salt. Mix well.

3. Add the currants and then the milk gradually. Knead in the bowl until you have a soft dough.

4. Roll onto a floured surface until roughly 1/2cm thick and use a cutter {I sometimes use a glass if I can't find mine}. Place the rounds onto the baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.

5. Take the tray out and brush the egg white onto the biscuits, sprinkle with sugar and pop back in the oven for 5 minutes.The biscuits should be lightly golden.

6. Cool on a wire rack.


Enjoy!
Love Mrs Jones x




Friday, 15 March 2013

Sewn: Cynthia Rowley 2406 - red corsage dress

After an afternoon of sewing and ironing, this is what I achieved:
Yes, a ridiculous photo of me posing as a flamingo {which is what you get when you ask an 11 year old to take a photo}! An almost completed dress.

Pattern used: The pattern I used was dress D from pattern 2406, Cynthia Rowley. 

Sizing: I wasn't exactly sure which measurement to use as it was in US dress sizes. I went for a US 8 hoping it was a UK 10, but could have got away with a US 6 I think. {I am a UK 8-10 size}.

Fabric used: I used a spotted cotton poplin.

Adaptions: I added some top stitching where there was none, especially down the back and round the arm holes. This top stitching would also have looked good in a contrasting colour.

Problems: By the time I got to the shoulder straps, I just couldn't understand how to do it, so although they are attached okay, the inside isn't so neat as it should be.


I am not used to following patterns and made an error right at the beginning by attaching the fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the top of the dress. Luckily, I managed to rip the interfacing off and started again!

I made the sash belt, as it just becomes a shift dress otherwise, and I like both ways of wearing it which are suggested on the pattern, although I took a good 20cm off the length of the sash because it looked enormous.
Once I have purchased a hook and eye for the back, I will show you it.

Love Mrs Jones x

Monday, 11 March 2013

This week...

This week, I have been:
  • Reading Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I don't seem to be progressing very well on this book!
  • Watching War Horse which was much better than the book - it is usually the other way round!
  • Buying Mothers' Day gifts, including a beautiful hydrangea in a creamy green colour.
  • Viewing bungalows for sale
  • Treating my boys to a new cushion each from the Wilde range in Wilkinsons - surprisingly good! The Geo range is also lovely.
  • Spring cleaning my bedroom and the study, since I saw how nice a show home was, and then decided my house should look nicer. My plan is to do a couple of rooms a week thoroughly.
  • Hoping that the snow that is coming down as I type, is going to settle!
Cushion from the Wilde range, Wilkinsons


How is your week going?
Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Pattern Cutting

I was really hoping to post about starting to sew a new dress, but the fabric I ordered on Wednesday hasn't arrived {to be honest, I was probaby a bit optimisitic}. I have had the pattern for over a year and I am definitely going to make it this time round! So, I have cut the pieces out for dress D {top left}:
If that goes okay, I may do the long sleeve dress too for the winter. I have bought a red cotton poplin with small white dots for the fabric. Have you made any of these dresses?

So, what sewing are you doing or planning this spring?

Love Mrs Jones x

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Minty

This week I am a little obsessed over these beautiful Icelandic mint sweets. They are so beautiful, they should have holes so I could string them into a necklace. Might be a bit sticky though!

My husband spent last week on a field trip over in Iceland - bizarrely it was warmer there than here! For my busy week with the children alone I was rewarded with some delicious dark chocolate and a goodie bag from the Blue Lagoon! 

Love Mrs Jones x

 

Monday, 4 March 2013

Weekend at the Old Belfry

For Christmas, I gave my husband a trip to the Old Belfry at Yarcombe, which is near Honiton, Devon. The hotel is an old village school house in a sleepy Devon village. The owners, who also run the hotel themselves with no additional help, are exceptionally friendly. We spent the past weekend at the Old Belfry.

The restaurant, which is the star of the hotel, seats only 12 people, and food needs to be ordered the day before arriving. On the night we were there, there were only 6 people dining, including us, but it was never awkward.

We both had the most delicious starter of Brixham scallops with white pudding, bacon, whisky and cream, followed by a lemon and ginger sorbet.

My husband had Venison in red wine and chocolate sauce and I had monkfish with lots of mashed potato. The desserts were beautifully presented: mine was Rhubarb parfait with pistachio ice-cream, ginger shortbread and rhubarb coulis, and my husband had a flaming baked tiramisu alaska!

The six rooms are named after poets - we were in Wordsworth which had a large arched lead paned window which was an original feature of the school. The bathroom was well equipped with L'Occitane products.

Such a lovely quiet weekend without our children! 

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 3 March 2013

March Lust List: Send me a letter...

Send me a letter...









Vintage RSVP stamp with swirls from Zazzle.com
zazzle.com


When was the last time you received a real letter in the post? Are emails making posting letters extinct? Don't worry, I am just as guilty - I think that the last letter I wrote {not including thank you letters} was about 20 years ago when I was at University.It may even have been a love letter! It was a time before mobile phones were available to normal people and computers had only slightly improved on the old BBC computers!

The metal envelope is something I have been lusting after for a while, but I don't think I can get it in the UK (sob). I think it is actually a planter, but wouldn't it be fab as a mailbox, albeit pretty unsecure.

Love Mrs Jones x

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Coughs and Sneezes

Both my children have nasty coughs and colds at the moment, and my husband, who is somewhere in Iceland at the time of writing, also has one. I don't know how I have escaped this time. 

Well, I was a little bored, and had an urge to sew, so I made this tissue cover. It was a little pointless, as my tissues are a bit too small. But, it is prettier than a supermarket brand tissue box. I have never applied bias binding to anything before {bunting doesn't really count}, and I have a pattern to make a top with contrasting binding, so it was a useful precursor to that.
I have also never made anything with these boxy corners before. They were a bit tricky to work out what was going on, but after some bad language and a lot of undoing with my seam ripper, it finally clicked! I have wanted to make one of those wash bags which involves this corner thing, so that might be my next make.
 
Meanwhile, my youngest is snuggled up with this quilt on the sofa with some tissues which are not from my pointless tissue cover!

Love Mrs Jones x

Fabric is Soleil in yellow by Annette Tatum from Dotty Dolly.


 

Friday, 1 March 2013

Lemon Victoria Sponge Cake

A little twist on the classic Victoria sponge cake, using lemon curd instead of strawberry or raspberry jam which transforms the cake completely. 
The colour of the lemon curd has blended in with the cake. Yum!

For an everyday cake, ie. that my family is eating, I use the chuck it all in the food processor and whizz it method, otherwise known as the all in one method! If I have guests, I might make it properly. The only difference is the thickness of the sponge - the processor way doesn't seem to get as much air in it and you get a slightly denser sponge.

Ingredients
175g butter
175g sugar
3 eggs
175g self raising flour
1tsp of baking powder to give it a little more rise {if using the all in one method}
Oven at190C

Method
1. Put all the ingredients into the food processor and process until completely mixed. If you get a little flour at the edge, gently push down with a spatula and process again.

2. Grease two 18cm sandwich tins {see note}and line the bottom. 

3. Put equal amounts of the mixture into both tins and bake for 20 minutes.

4. When cooked, carefully run a knife around the edge and turn out onto a cooling rack.

5. When completely cool, slather one half {if the cake didn't turn out well, make sure that the side your fill with lemon is the messier one} with lemon curd - about a third of a jar.

6. I like to add buttercream as well, which you can make according to the back of the icing sugar box or you can even buy it ready made. Spread this on the other cake.

7. Carefully sandwich together and add a little sugar or icing sugar on top as required.

NOTE: if your tins are smaller or larger, adjust the recipe accordingly. For the perfect victoria sponge recipe, weigh your eggs and tailor the butter, sugar and flour to match the weight of the eggs.

Love Mrs Jones x