Sunday, 8 April 2018

Pearls never go out of fashion.

Today's cards is on a Pearl theme.  I thought that this card of the lovely stamp Champagne Pearl was perfect.

The card is made with a fab stamp from I Brake For Stamps and you can get her by clicking the title  below:

Pearl and Champagne

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Amethyst beaded necklace

Amethyst Necklace with a twist. A spiral rope necklace in fact.

I have some beautiful large silverlined glass beads. They are lentil shaped which means that they are discs with a dome shape in the middle. I also have the Silver Colour Scarf Tube Pendant x 2, which I used to hang the pendant.

Now, I'm not pretending that this was quick to make as it was not. The rope will take a couple of evenings but, when that's done, the rest is a breeze and the effect is stunning.

If you are interested I can make up a kit for you at the cost of £10. This will include everything except the fireline and needle.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Book Review: How to Lose Weight Well

Book Review: How to Lose Weight Well

Some of you that follow this blog will know that from time to time I review a book. Today's victim is

How to Lose Weight Well by Xand van Tulleken

You may well have seen the highly amusing television programme that was broadcast last month. Just about everyone lost weight on the variety of diets that they tried. This book is not about that, it is about the diet that Van Tulleken has devised with the help of a nutritionalist.

The preamble to the book is well written and it is easy to understand his reasoning behind weight loss and his own battle with being over weight.

The recipes that he publishes in his book are interesting and tasty with a big emphasis on vegetables. This is perfect for me as I tend to eat more veg than fruit. So far so good.

What I didn't like so much was the choice of three diet plans that are on offer in the book. Basically it is the same amount of food split between the three main meals of the day. You  either eat three meals, two meals or one meal. The amount of food doesn't change just the portions at each meal time. 

If you want a diet that will see you dropping fat at a fast rate then this is perfect for you. I only want to lose three kilograms so I can't say that it is for me. I will use some of the recipes though. The aubergine recipe is fantastic.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Make your own non dissolving dusting sugar

So you want to dust a cake with icing sugar. You do so, and much to your disappointment within an hour or so, sometimes even less the sugar dissolves and that beautiful finish has disappeared. Why doesn't this happen to the same cakes that are on display in the local bakery? 

This is an easy question to answer. In the bakeries they don't use icing sugar. What they use looks like icing sugar but it's a mixture of dextrose, cornflour, vegetable oil and flavourings. The important thing to know about it is that it is non-hydrating.

How does this happen? Here's the science for you. 

The sugar particles are coated in the vegetable oil so the moisture can't get at them. It's as simple as that. The use of dextrose instead of sucrose also helps as it is a finer and less sweet sugar. That's why those sugar coated doughnuts don't taste overly sweet.

Now we reach the second problem. This dusting sugar is not widely available in the UK. It can be bought from bakery supplies if they will sell it to you but it comes in 12.5kg bags. Far too much for the home baker to use. 

So what is there to do? 

The solution is fairly simple. Instead of using the above list of ingredients you can coat the sugar in melted cocoa butter. To give the sugar a delicate flavour of vanilla use some vanilla extract in the melted cocoa butter. 

You will need a food processor to make the dusting sugar, but at a push you could do it with your finger tips. It is less messy and more efficient in the food processor.

To make your dusting sugar:

10g cocoa butter, melted. 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g dextrose
50g icing sugar

If you don't have dextrose and it is fairly easy to get from Amazon. See this link then you can use all icing sugar. It will be sweet.


Melt the cocoa butter. I did this by putting the cocoa butter in a small bowl and placing it in a larger dish that contained boiling water. it didn't seem to like the microwave method of melting chocolate. It will only  take a couple of minuted to melt. Add the vanilla to the melted butter.

Put the dextrose and sugar mixture into the bowl of the food processor and switch on. Pour the cocoa butter in through the feeding tube. It will mix into the sugar. If any of the butter collects on the base of the bowl then give it a stir and pulse again. Repeat this until all of the cocoa butter has been absorbed. It will not be pure white as the vanilla will colour it slightly. You won't notice this when it's on the cake.

Your dusting sugar is now ready. Store in an air tight jar until ready to use.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

It's a stamp! Tree stamp painting

What a fabulous day we've had today. The family came to lunch which I got on the table without mishap. I even made sure to make too much so that there would be some left for tomorrow.  Can't get any better really. 

So, I now have time to make a card.  I've chosen to use the tree from 'I Brake for Stamps' as my new stamp. I've not used it before despite the stamp sheet being a really popular one. Silly me then, is all that I can say.

Just love tree stamps

One of the special things about this stamp is that it can be coloured straight onto the stamp. To get the two or even three tone effect on the tree you will need to use at least three pens. I used the Kuretake, Zig Art and Graphic pens in colours 57, 55 and 49. These are available from me.

Please leave a message if you want them.

The star of the show, the tree stamp is from the Trees Plate 3, sheet below and it is the one featured in Craft Stamper too.

Last but not least is the ribbon which is the 9cm saddle stitch which is a recent addition to the huge ribbon range that I will link to on eBay.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Setting out my Craft Table

This is a blast from the past. I love doing craft shows when people actually come through the door. It then means that you can interact with like minded customers and have a  fantastic time. It' so much nicer then selling on the internet.

I had a table at a jewellery fair just before Christmas but, as I was really busy, I didn't have time to post the picture. So here it is. It's a slightly different set up this time but I like the layout of the busts.

I sold the chunky bead necklaces as that seems to be the current favourite. However, in the last fair it was the finer stuff. You really never know.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Marmalade 2018 - a bumper year.

The arrival of Seville oranges must be one of the few seasonal food events left to us who live in the world of strawberries in December.  I couldn't wait for them to arrive this year as my supply was well and truly depleted.  Not a spoonful left to glorify my morning toast or add to my favourite fruit cake. That said they did sit in my fridge for a few days as you really need time to make marmalade.  It can't be thrown together in minutes. Marmalade requires time to prep all of the ingredients but once that is done it can be switched on and left to its own devices for a couple of hours.

This year my lovely granddaughter will be joining me to make the marmalade. She has requested a finer cut to the peel so she will have to roll up her sleeves and help. I won't refuse her.

Out comes the fruit juicer and we are away.

To make a lip puckering marmalade and why make anything else, you will need:

1kg of Seville oranges. Make sure that they are fresh as the fresher the oranges the easier it is to get the marmalade to set.

1.9kg sugar.

The juice of 1 lemon

2 Lt water.

You will need at least 6 jam jars. If they are small you will need more. They should be sterilised. I do mine by washing them in the dishwasher just before I need them.

Now comes the fun and this is why help is appreciated.

Cut the oranges in half and juice. Remove the pips and pith and pour into a bowl. The rinds should be sliced thinly, only you will know how thick you like your rind. This will take a while, but while one person juices the other can slice. Add the rind to the water along with the juice of the fruits and bring gently to the boil. This will simmer for 2 hours. It really does need this as it takes that long for the rind to soften.

Now, convention would have it that the pith and pips should be put into a cheese cloth tied with string and then added to the boiling marmalade. When this is cooked the bag is squeezed to get out the pectin which is a thick gel that oozes out of the bag. Well blow that. I put my pips and pith together with about half a pint of the water from the 2lt into a microwave bowl and cooked until mushy. This may take a few minutes. It depends on your machine. Put the resulting mush into a fine sieve and, using a large spoon, push as much as you can through the sieve. You will see the pectin coming out with ease. Scrape the pectin off the bottom of the sieve. If it gets to be too thick, take a ladle of the hot liquid from the pot, avoid the rind, and pour onto the sieve. Stir and push again. You get the idea I'm, sure. When you have removed as much pectin as possible give it  a good stir and whisk into the boiling marmalade. Allow it to finish its 2 hour simmer.

Put a side plate in the fridge to cool.

Now add the sugar and mix to dissolve. Bring the marmalade up to the boil and, if you can do it, a good rolling boil. No namby pamby simmering needed here. You really need to get up to a temperature of about 105C. This is the setting point of most jams. However, any time from 99C on you can test for setting. Do this by putting a spoonful on a cold plate, put the plate in the fridge and when cool the jam is ready if the jam on the plate wrinkles when pushed with your finger. It is a good idea to switch the jam off while you do this other wise it may over cook.

Ladle the marmalade into the jars. Screw the tops on firmly and turn upside down. this will help prevent the jam from going off. Leave to cool and when cool get out the toaster and enjoy.