Tuesday, 15 May 2012

On the list of craft 'wanties'...

I always always always have my eye on yarn of some kind and yet again I am drooling over the [above] Starburst crochet blanket by Jane Brocket from the Gentle art of Knitting book (pattern also in issue 2 of Mollie Makes).  I've had my eye on this for an age but recently spurred on by Kath on her Inverleith blog and Instagram feed, who has been making a granny a day of it and has posted lots of lovely images of the finished blanket.  She chose really lovely colours (in Rowan Pure Wool DK) and made me 'want' to start all over again.  I've even been looking at yarn and at the mo considering Rowan Cotton glace.  I have some balls that I got for the 'icing' on knitted cupcakes and the shine is lovely on this yarn.  I love cotton yarn too, it is my favourite I think. It's a double knit wool and has a lovely feel to it too when knitted up.  I am very tempted but as always such a thing is quite an investment money wise. 
I've been looking longingly at this shade card.

There is fabric on the 'wanties' list too but as of yet I have not decided what I would do with it. I have been thinking of trying to make a zipped pouch.  This kind of sewing really is NOT my area.  I get very easily confused when things have to be rightside/wronside/insideout/outsidein/cut/measured etc etc.  I like my sewing machine but it has not (as of yet) turned into love. This 'walk in the woods' fabric by Moda has me tempted to try as it has foxes liberally sprinkled all over it and I love a fox.

(image from the cottonpatch. Click on image to go see the full range) 
It really is very cute fabric and I can picture it on something small. Oh and did I mention?  Love a fox!  I'd love some of this but what to do?
I am constantly fighting the urge to make more quilts/blankets but as I have a few on the go (see this earlier post) I  really must not start another so it's lucky I do not see this fox fabric in a quilt.

There are craft books calling on me at Amazon, whispering to me with their potential.

 I've had my eye on this book for a while as I love embroidered flowers and this book has some really nice ones including daffodils.

This books looks great but I am a little unsure because as I said earlier this kind of sewing does not come easily to me but I like the look of the things in here so maybe I would be inspired to give some of the projects a go. Maybe some of you have it and could let me know hoe easy/difficult it is to follow.

 (Three book images from Amazon.co.uk)
 I love the look of these socks.  I haven't knitted a a pair in a while but the patterns in this book are really lovely.  I am thinking of making some as gifts as last year I made really simple tube socks for a couple of friends and they were very well received. I like the idea too of knitting (as the title says) from the toe up as you can try them on as you go meaning you can be sure of the fit you like. These socks would also mean I can look at hand dyed yarn which is a really fun thing to do on Etsy, especially with the app.

It's not a huge list but there is always, without fail, a list on the go and who doesn't love a list or indeed a notebook (or ten) to write them in?

What's on your list of craft 'wanties'?


P.S you can always find me on Twitter or Instagram as jammypudding.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Can you ever have enough......

.......baking books?
I really do not think so.
I make something, sometimes many things, from each of the books I buy, yet the compulsion to have more is always there.  First there is the 'noticing' of a book, whether it be by recommendation from someone (or by amazon - they get me every time). The imagining begins. I begin to wonder what delights may be inside, could there be the perfect recipe for something I already make and love? Something new I have never tried before and always wanted to? What photos are in there?  Will they make be drool at the very thought of the pressure of a pastry fork?
When a new book arrives I almost want to create a ceremonial moment, take the time to enjoy every detail of the book, the feel of the pages turning, the smell, the potential locked inside. It's all very much an indulgence!

Recently I have become obsessed with patisseries, windows full of shiny glazed delights, thoughts of delicate pastries and not so delicate slabs of bread, wanting to refine, to be precise, to hone my baking skills.  I love hearty classics, always, but I want the challenge of having to be more skilled.  Always wanting people to exclaim "you did that?".  You know that slightly insulting/impressed thing we all do? I want to get to grips with liquid fondant and make French Fancies. The book I recently bought by the amazing Peggy Porschen will help with that.  I want to get to grips with pastry so I  ordered this only the other day...

(image from Amazon.  Click here to see the book)
Just look at that cover!!  I cannot wait to delve into this book! I am not scared of pastry at the moment, a little bemused by it, not fully understanding it when I make it, not fully 'there' with it like I am with cakes. I want to become excellent and produce exquisite things. Things made of pastry.
I have that image of a tiered cake stand all prepared for afternoon tea and with that image I hear myself wanting to recreate it with things all made by me. 
You see why I *need* this book??

It may well be the fact that, in the main, it still feels wintry, but I have a notion for nordic baked things too so have my eye on this book...
(image from Amazon. Click here to see book) 
 This book sounds amazing. Those breakfast compotes and jams, those cakes and bread, mmmm cinnamon buns! Big amounts of *sighing*. I am so so so very tempted.

But for now, bring on the pastry making.

Always thinking about baking and loving the abundance of books. 

In my wee world, you can never, ever have enough!


P.S I'm always posting photos on Instagram so come and have a looksee, I'm jammypudding on there.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

April showers of a baking kind.

For me, April hasn't showered rain so much as flour and icing sugar.  I've been a busy ol' bee with birthdays and things and when I look at my Instagram feed (I'm jammypudding on there by the way) there is an abundance of bakes.
Back at the beginning of April I turned 39 and had a lovely, lovely day which was made all the lovelier for having this...

 Lemon cake decorated with handmade daisies.  It tasted so so so good.  I'd take lemon cake over all others (maybe?...might have to think about that claim) and it was kind of nice making myself a cake for my birthday.  Eldest Biscuit was outraged by the idea!
My father-in-law's birthday quickly followed mine so I made him his favourite coffee and walnut cake but this time I used my cool tin from Lakeland.  It has straight sides for individual cakes so you can make small versions of large cakes.  I was very pleased with how they turned out and will have to make mini Victoria sponges soon.

 The lead up to the end of the Easter hols meant I had to re stock the freezer with some bakes for my boys' lunch boxes.

Banana bread and

marble cake cut up into ickle pieces.  Sponge freezes really well and even though baking ingredients can be expensive by the time they are cut up small and used up, they work out quite cheap and although not exactly health food, better than processed and I do think cake makes people happy.  In my head my Biscuits are able to get through an afternoon of school with the help of their little cakes of happiness made with love by me.
I also made chocolate cheesecake for a friend as part of his Christmas gift of bakes throughout 2012.  I couldn't encourage a heart bypass so he didn't get a whole cheesecake, a few pieces were leftover for us.

 Oh my this cheesecake from Nigella's 'Feast' book is simply heaven in every mouthful and whenever I have it I feel I am in one of those old Flake adverts, having a special moment in a field of wild flowers. So good!

Last week I made madeleines for the menfolk as an after school and work snack (and of course a few for me too).  If you have never made them or let alone eaten one, please do.  Apart from the specialised tin (Lakeland sell one for under a tenner) they are very very easy wee cakes to make and quick too.  You can pretend, if you have a need to, to be refined and delicate whilst nibbling on one. I find it essential to drink tea from a china cup and saucer whenever I have one. Look at them, *sigh*!

 And finally, Eldest biscuit turned eleven yesterday.  All you parents out there will understand when I say I do not know how that happened so soon after him arriving but eleven he is.  I managed to convince him not to have his usual novelty sugarpaste clad birthday cake ( a 3DS this year) in favour of a chocolate cake made with chocolate from Hotel Chocolat. It's surprisingly cheaper weight for weight than Green & Blacks.  The self sacrificing mother that I am had to go into their shop in Edinburgh, forcing myself to take their free samples whilst shopping for his cake.  The things we do.
I didn't want to use my everyday, all-in-one cake (again from 'Feast') so opted for a luxury buttermilk one from 'Tea with Bea'.  This book is really lovely with seriously decadent bakes. It isn't a book for beginners I think but if you are a confident baker it's worth a looksee.  Here's how it turned out...

 I layered it with vanilla buttercream (which to be fair didn't compliment the sponge I feel, you live and learn) and covered it with chocolate buttercream.  I sprinkled over fudge pieces, Minstrels, smarties and gemstone drops from Hotel Chocolat.  I also made the bunting to decorate and little flags for these...

...mini vanilla cupcakes.  Eldest Biscuit likes to share his cake with family and friends so these were for those not so keen on a rich chocolate cake.  Too cute!
And of course there were the obligatory and traditional number biscuits.

For Christmas 2000, whilst pregnant with EB, I got Nigella's Domestic Goddess book from Mr Biscuit (he wrote inside "who's to say you're not already" sweet or what?) and knew when I saw these biscuits that I wanted to make them [for our cooking baby + any more] every year for birthdays and so far I have.  We joke that as grown men, my boys will still expect them. I followed the 'Biscuiteers' way for the icing and am getting to grips with icing bags and plastic bottles.
Here's a photo of my boy making a wish.

Oh my what a calorific month!  Just as well it wasn't all for me.  Yet I am dreaming of more.  I got a new book yesterday to sigh over and consider "What to bake?".

Indeed "What to bake?" .



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