Saturday, 23 December 2017

Christmas Italian Style

In our house, as in many Italian houses we will be having a pasta course of annolini in brodo. They are small pasta parcels that are filled with a fantastic mixture of stracotto and cheese which is an intense and wonderful flavour.

These have been a tradition for as long as I can remember. As a matter of fact a Christmas meal would not be the same without them.
I am not going to pretend that they are not labour intensive as they are, but like the tortelli they can be made in advance and stored in the freezer until needed.

First of all you will need to make the stracotto which translates as over cooked or extra cooked.
Start off with a good size piece of brisket. No need to worry if you have too much as you can eat the extras and enjoy every mouthful. You will need at least 1 kilogramme.

1 large onion.
2 or 3 cloves of garlic. It all depends on how big they are. they will cook for ages and the taste will mellow while they cook so don't skimp.
1 carrot.
1 stalk of celery.
1 Knorr stock cube. I bring mine back from Italy and I use gusto classico. It has a good flavour and does not fight with the flavour of the meat.
250g butter. Yes, that much.
A couple of glasses of white wine.

What you will need to do:
Fry the meat in a little butter, add the onions and continue to fry gently until the mixture is brown.

Add the carrot which you have peeled and cut in half along with the the halved celery.

Pour over the wine and add the garlic and stock cube.

Simmer gently and I do mean gently for about 5 hours. If you have the oven on low then it will sit quite happily in a very low onen for the same time.
It will be ready when it falls apart.

To make the filling you will need these extra ingredients.
Parmesan cheese Use as much as you think that you need. I generally tase mine and see. the cheese also tends to dry the filling so if you think that your filling is too wet add more cheese.
2 to 3 eggs
Fresh breadcrumbs

Make the pasta in the same way that I described in the Tortelli section and
These will fill us so much that the turkey course that follows will be picked at rather than devoured.

Blue for Christmas

This is a memory from an earlier blog post. Now that Craft Fairy and I are no longer an item, I have removed the links to the products.

However, I still have the stamps so message me if you want them!!!

I've made a lot of red and green cards lately and this challenge was very welcome. I have also decided that this card is going to be the one that I send out to my nearest and dearest. So to anyone that reads my blog, and doesn't get one of these handmade jobbies you know why.

Materials used
Trees plate 
Blue satin swiss dot ribbon 3mm
Buttons from the pack of mixed buttons
Art anfdGraphic pens from Zig Kuretake in number 3

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Christmas Heart for a Garland

Yesterday evening I felt, (ha, ha) the need to make another of my favourite craft goodies. So, being Christmas, I decided that the best thing to do would be to make one of the red hearts. This time I decided to combine it with the red spotty bows that I made and a little of the natural cotton lace and create this:

You can make one too by using:

Red Felt Hearts 7.5cm, wide, 30% Wool Blend
30mm Pointed Cotton Lace Natural
Red Grosgrain Ribbon with White Swiss Dots
Christmas Red and Green Assorted Shape Buttons
Red Swiss Dot Ribbon, 6mm

Please message me for supplies.

You will also need a needle and thread of your colour choice,
Some wadding to fill the heart.

Red roses for a romantic gift wrap

Have you noticed that gift packaging is getting better and better all of the time?  If you treasure someone enough to give them a gift then it makes sense to put it in something special so that the person that you give it to knows right from the start that you made it for them with love.

So, today, I made a gift box and decorated it to show how much I like the person and the gift inside it.

A few posts back I showed you how to make a gift package and this time I used that method to make a box in red card.

The ribbon that I used was:
Old Gold Satin Ribbon, 3 metres by 16mm
The red red rose was:
Really Large Paper Roses - 4.5 cm - Red

If you want some of the large red rose heads I have plenty. Please message me.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Christmas Inspired Felt Heart

I did tell you two days ago that I was on a roll with these felt hearts. I wasn't lying as I"ve made another one today. This time I decided to go for a more Christmas inspired set of colours and this is what I came up with.

I chose the beauriful tear drop lace in ivory as I'm not all that keen on white and red. I paired it with the luxurious red and old gold damask ribbon, a cream ribbon rose and some of the 4mm golden beads. I used the diagonal layout that seems to be my favourite at the moment and this is the result. I hope that you like it too.

Materials used can be found here:

Red Felt Hearts 7.5cm, wide 30% Wool and Synthetic Blend 
Golden Glass Seed Beads, Silver Lined, Round, approx 4mm 
Cream Ribbon Roses
15mm Tear Drop Guipure Lace x 1 Metre - Ivory
Red and Old Gold Luxury Damask Ribbon 2 metres x 16mm
Green ribbon with red centre stitching 3m x 4mm

On reflection I think that there should be a bead at the very bottom tip. Note to self. Do this next time.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Felt Christmas Tree

Doesn't it really annoy you when all of those lovely Christmas tree baubles are too heavy to actually hang on your tree. They are beautiful but they bend the branches.

Now is the time to get cracking with handmade Christmas decorations and this one is perfect. It is quick and easy and so light weight that it won't bend your Christmas tree branches.

Simply take:
Red Beads

Thread... I used red
Some stuffing.

What you need to do:
Cut out a template using the measurements on the sheet below:

Use this template to cut out your felt shapes. I drew around the shape and then cut out. It was far easier than trying to cut around the card.

To avoid wasting felt you can place one side of the tree against the cutting edge of the previous one.

Now. sew the beads onto one side of the tree.

put the two sides together and sew around three sides with a running stitch. Stuff the tree and sew the other side together. Now sew on the bow.

Finished. Think a garland!!

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Ribbon Weaving in beautiful Christmas Colours

I have just created this woven ribbon card in Christmas colours after I was spurred on to make a Christmas Card by the lovely ladies at Dandie Crafts Treforest. You may have seen the card that I demoed in an earlier post. That one was in rich wines and creams, while this is in reds and greens for christmas.

Now, if you want to make a card like this you will need:

All products can be bought from me if you send me an email.
Forest Green 16mm satin ribbon
Red damask ribbon in 16mm
Old gold satin ribbon 6mm
Willow satin ribbon 9mm
Some guipure lace, I used circle and fan
a really large rose in red
Glue and foam pads
some card to make the base on which to showcase your creation.
A few red buttons

Start by cutting a piece of card that will be the right size for your ribbons. 
Stick a piece of double sided tape to the back of one side of the card.

Lay out your ribbons in your chosen pattern as seen in the picture below.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Folded Ribbon Flower Video

Here's the latest video. Not calligraphy flowers for a change, but making roses.

To see the YouTube, of the tutorial for this ribbon rose, please click the picture below.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Ribbon tree

I do love to see all of the beautiful and varied colour themes that seem to abound in the shops every year. I sigh and think that gold and cream is so chic and elegant, but, somehow I always return to the traditional when it comes to putting my Christmas decor together. So it is no surprise that I have chosen red, green and gold as the colours of my ribbon tree.

Christmas inspiration

I do like a good colour board for two reasons.
  1. It reminds me of what I have and
So this is what I put together today.

I suppose that you've guessed that this one is a Christmas themed one. Perhaps I should say that it's a traditional Christmas board. All of these fab Christmas craft products are ready and waiting for you.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Tom Kerridge Dopamine Diet - Book Review

Update: I've lost 12lb!!!

Love, love, love Tom Kerridge. His recipes and television shows are a delight to watch and to eat. Our Christmas turkey has been based on Tom's recipe for the last three years. So it was with great anticipation that I bought this diet book. I have to admit that it also arrived at a time that I needed to loose some weight. Too many puddings were sitting heavily on my hips and waist.

The huge advantage of this book is that it comes from the prospective of a chef rather than from a dietitian. So the emphasis is on the taste of the food rather than from a tick list of  ingredients that happen to be low in calories. Tom Kerridge claims that this book will make you feel happy and to date I have not eaten one of the meals and not felt happy. 

I started using this book to make soups for lunch and Tom has given recipes for soups that are quick to make and delicious to eat.

I have made his chorizo, cabbage and kale soup. This may not be a looker but it tasted delicious which is what we all want when we are on a diet. It was filling and I have to be honest when I say this, not at all what you might expect from a diet soup. It was thick and really did what you book claims as it made me feel very happy and not at all deprived.

If you like omelettes, then this is also the book for you as there are omelettes a plenty. They are wonderful standby for lunch. A good way to fill up and avoid eating bread! Where Tom Kerridge is particularly clever is that he uses his omelette as a substitute base for pizza toppings. What is not to like about pepperoni pizza omelette and quattro stagioni omelette?

The meat section will have you drooling. There are marvellous mince curries and hot pots with clever substitutes for potatoes and will make you think that this cannot be a diet book.

A big test of the book is that my husband, who never needs to diet, drat him, eats all of the food with real relish and does not feel at all deprived. I just add rice or potatoes to his plate.

It is, however, important to remember that this book does not give you menus or weeks plans. It is a cook book and all the better for it.

The bottom line is that I have already lost half a stone in two months without feeling that I am on a diet. Before you throw up your hands in horror and say is that all, I have not starved myself, I have been full and I am happy this it is going down. I only have a stone to loose in total. Half way there then.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Let's Knit a Cute, Soft Rabbit

I have three grandchildren and it really is not possible to make for one without the other three wanting the same or similar. So when I made the rabbit with the pink spotty dress, the other two put in their orders. 

For my little grandson, I have decided to make a boy rabbit complete with clothes. The rabbit is finished but the clothes will arrive within a couple of days. I need some black and grey wool and I, amazingly enough, don't have any. This does come as a surprise to me as I have a lot of bits of wool floating around this house. 

The picture shows the new addition to the warren. I've seated the two rabbits together so that you can see the difference in their sizes. Surprisingly the larger rabbit only took 50g of yarn. That's pretty good value for such a sweet toy.

I'm sure that by now you will want to know more. 

Let's start with the pattern. It came from a back copy of 'Let's Knit' magazine. You can see this magazine, while it's still live on this link:

I started by knitting all of the pieces and I've set them out below. I really had to force myself to do this as I am usually a kit a piece and sew it up as I go along kind of girl. 

I did get around to the sewing and here's the first leg.

The head. I thought that this was too small at first but it sewed and stuffed up to a good size. On reflection, if I made it again, I would make the head a bit bigger. By that I mean I would put in a few extra rows rather than stitches, It needs to be longer, not wider.

For stuffing, I used my trusted pillow stuffing and made sure to put plenty in. if you want this toy to sit up you can't make it too floppy.

Did you see my earlier post? The one where I knitted a cute soft rabbit using the Julie Williams pattern that I bought from her web site? If you missed it you can find it here. 

Monday, 6 February 2017

Low Carb, Chorizo, Cabbage and Kale Soup

Low carb food does not have to be boring . It is not only about hunks of meat and cheese. You need a fair sprinkling of veg if you are to survive all the meat and cheese and you want to eat a nutritious diet. So I spent a bit of time looking at combinations of food that I rather likes and this is yummy and satisfying bowl of comfort is the result.

The other great advantage of this soup is that you can serve it to other members of the family that don't want to eat low carb. They can have chunks of crusty bread to make a filling lunch time meal. My husband loves it and has asked for it again and again.

I promise you that you will want to lick the plate. 

So, let's get cooking.

For 4 servings you will need:

1/2 a white cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion
1 chicken stock cube
1/3 of a chorizo sausage. I buy mine from Lidl
100g of Kale. Remove the tough stalks
Grated cheddar or red Leicester cheese 
Salt and pepper

To make 

Put the oil in a large saucepan. Put on the heat and add the chopped chorizo. Cook gently until the oil starts to turn orange. I always love this part as the smell is simply divine.
Add the onions and sauce for a few minutes until the onions turn translucent.
Throw in the cumin and stir around to bring out the flavour.
Now add the cabbage and the kale. Cook slowly to sweat the vegetables. This should take a further 5 minutes. 

Make up a pint of stock with the stock cube and boiling water. Add to the pan. Turn down and cook until the cabbage and kale are tender. Approx 30 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you like a chunky soup you can serve the soup as it is. I prefer this soup smooth so I whizzed it up with a hand blender. Yumm.

Label out into warm bowls and pile the cheese in the centre. Or if you don't like cheese then a swirl of cream will make a rather boring looking soup smile. This is probably necessary if you are serving fussy children.

If you're in a hurry this cooks up a dream in the pressure cooker. Depending on the make of your cooker it should only take 10 minutes.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Never show your granddaughter a pretty soft toy unless you are prepared to make one. It's a good idea to read the pattern first to make sure that you have the patience. This took me far longer than I thought it would and now the other two grand children want one each. LOL.

This fabulous rabbit is made from a pattern that I bought from and is by a lovely and talented designer called Julie Williams. Here's her page.

She has lots of patterns. I have also bought the bear pattern so that will be the next one.

I have to admit that you need to know what you are doing as far as knitting is concerned. It is a bit tricky when you have to cast on so many stitches to form the shape of the head and feet. It didn't help that I used a stiff yarn that had no give in it. 

You will also see that I deviated a bit from the original pattern as I didn't have the right wool. Hence the purchase of the bear pattern. I used the feet from the pear to make the rabbit feet.