Friday, 30 December 2011

The Elizabethan Costume Project

And so it's started.  A new project.

I do love the start of a new project!

This year's project; ok, technically next year's project, the 2012 project, is Elizabethan.  Actually, to be entirely accurate, it's a Tudor Costume, more Henry than Elizabeth.  Mid 1550s to be precise. That said, there is a beautiful picture of Elizabeth 1, from approx. 1546, in which she wears a gown just like the one I would like to make... though I doubt that I will manage to make anything anywhere near as beautiful!

If dated accurately, she's only 13 in the portrait and she is already magnificent; and, as it links my timeframe back to her, the project can still be called an Elizabethan Costume.

And so I've started one of my most favourite parts of any project, the research.  I love to research costume history, particularly to see how far and how well other people have pieced the past back together again.

There are some wonderful sources for Tudor costume recreation, particularly the Elizabethan Costume site, which has a wealth of information available.  Also of note, are the Margo Anderson patterns, one of which I have ultimately chosen to use.

I had started off thinking that I would use a Simplicity pattern, which looks rather like the dress above.  It is a simplistic (no pun intended!) version of the costume, but outwardly looked good enough.  This would be a far less intensive project than the Victorian one had been; less sewing, more other stuff... that sort of thing.  But, I couldn't quite bring myself to hit the buy button, it was too cheap a pattern (£4-odd), readily available on eBay.. just all too easy; I had one last Google.  One quick search later and there appeared Margo's site.  I have decided on the Tudor Lady's Wardrobe but it's taken a lot of self-persuasion to tear myself away from the Elizabethan patterns which are a wealth of bodice styles, sleeve options, multiple possibilities when it comes to my underpinnings... and all accompanied by 100+ page guides.  I am a good pattern junkie, and a total sucker for an accompanying guide!  It's ten times more expensive, not including postage, but you so know it will be worth every penny :)

My last decision is whether or not to also buy Margo's Underpinnings patterns, or whether I should instead delve deeper into the Elizabethan Costume website and make my own.  The Tudor Lady patterns include a smock, I would just need to make my own corset, bum roll (still makes me smile) and farthingale.  With option B, I can enter whole new worlds, including the myriad interpretations of the Alcega Farthingale pattern from 1589; more later no doubt.  The fact that it is even possible to access and interpret a pattern that is 422 (soon to be 423) years old is too good an experience to miss.  Just as the Simplicity pattern felt like a cop out, I think pre-drawn underpinnings will feel a little like one too.  I just have to make sure I can make sense of the instructions first!

For now, I'm going to continue reading; will more than likely buy a copy Janet Arnold's Vol.3 (quickly followed by Vols 1,2 and 4 no doubt!) as her books are mentioned on every site I've visited; buy my TLW pattern; and then wait impatiently for it's arrival!  As for colours, fabrics, trimmings... apart for thinking of greens and that textures might be good, I'm clueless.   I think I need to sort my patterns first.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Boyf's Advent Calendar

Now that it's all done and dusted, I can show you the boyf's advent calendar:

I think he liked it :o)

and, for good measure, I made him a card as well...

What I love about Christmas

Belated Christmas greetings everyone, I hope you have all enjoyed the last few days.   The 10yr old, the boyf and I started ours with a party on Christmas Eve with the lovely B's and S's.  Thanks to a lack of boyf to rein me in (he worked so hard on the run up to the holidays), simple present swapping and sausage rolls (ok, maybe not the sausage rolls) turned into three courses of vegan/veggie fabulousness, thanks in huge part to the gorgeous Mrs B who found herself cooking the starter and saved the sprouts after I'd just thrown them all over the floor!  We gave Mr S his vintage Atari 2600 and I wish I'd had my camera when he opened it up... we also discovered that Mr B has serious Atari talents, and that Mrs B is slightly addicted to Friendship Bracelet makers!

Christmas morning was the usual chaos of paper and dobe and squeals of delight, particularly from yours truly who is typing this on her brand new (first time ever) laptop, thanks to her utterly delicious boyf!  The 10yr old was as pleased with her books and pj's as she was with her Kindle; Megs chewed everything she unwrapped and is now inseparable from her new bff Puss Cat, and whilst the boyf will have to wait for warmer weather to enjoy his main pressie, he has been sat reading his Bear Grylls, pretty much constantly since unwrapping it.

Since then we've all stopped waking up in time with our silenced alarm clocks and are catching up on our sleep,  have enjoyed a random mix of "spring" cleaning inside and out (I have finally got rid of my tape collection (yes I know!), all of our music and movies are now on one new storage drive and the chooks are happy in their spruced up run), Mission Impossible 4 (very good fun), gardening, painting the dog run (long overdue), odd jobs (the wobbly worktop in the kitchen is fixed, only 18 months after moving in!), cooking, walking, sitting, talking and simply enjoying, and, for me at least, slowly, oh so slowly, sorting through the junk on my old laptop and moving what's worth moving, to the new one.

Oh, and my first commission is finished... no more black twill for me for a while!  And sadly, no photos until the show in February.

It has, in all, been a lovely Christmas.  That perfect match of spoilt, but not too spoilt, good food, friends, family and proper relaxation, the kind that is active and fun, but restorative too.  New treasures have new homes and, in the process, our life is a little bit neater and certainly our house a little bit tidier!  I think that we all feel clearer, calmer, loved, happy and well in ourselves... what more could you want from Christmas.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Meet Fryda

...finally!  All done, dressed (!) and looking as quirkily beautiful as ever.

This is what I love about dolls, despite everything that's not gone quite as I expected or hoped it would, she has her own style and personality and has come into her own.  I would love to tell you how I made her clothes, certainly I started using the American Doll patterns (particularly for the jacket) but, in truth, I can't.  Like everything else with this doll, the best laid plans quickly fell apart and so I just sewed.  

Trying to make Fryda more "pretty doll like" didn't last long: the original blue or green dress idea quickly didn't suit, and in a rummage of the scrap box I found this pin-stripe dark grey wool.  Fryda and I embraced her Gothic inclinations!  The jacket is more-or-less as the pattern would suggest, except that Fryda's measurements were radically different.  So, using the tailoring skills I learnt on the Victorian jacket, I tailored it to fit, except for the sleeves, which I liked oversized and loose.  I also left the edges unfinished to gently fray.  The wool does not fray easily, so it won't damage the jacket, and I liked the contrast of shabby with such a structured jacket.  It would make a good pattern to scale up and make in my own size... and another project is born!  

The skirt was nothing more than a leftover strip of faux silk, which I cut into three and shaped onto her.  Long definitely didn't work, so we went for mid-length and a net underskirt with a little gathered detailing as suited.  The buttons I have had for years and were a good size, I also liked the splash of colour, which softens all the black.  And finally her hair is twisted with ribbons and a clear bead/ribbon concoction, which came off an overly fussy pair of slippers.

Now that she's all done, Fryda is not going anywhere; I may be far too old for such things, but she's mine :)  I have no idea where she is going to gently rest out her days, Megs has taken a great liking to her, so it will have to be out of reach, and I don't think sitting is the best way to display her: she's certainly not an elegant doll, sitting with her legs crossed at the ankles is the best she can manage.  For now, she can enjoy Christmas from the sideboard, in the New Year I will have to think of a good and suitable place to keep my quirky little Fryda.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

23 metres of black cotton drill

I have my first commission!  It's not the most artistic of sewing jobs; a series of display case covers for some machines going to a trade show, but it's certainly interesting.  It's not often that I sew in metres instead of inches, have to draw patterns with a metre stick and have a pile of fabric so heavy I can barely move it - lifting it onto the table, I looked like I was lugging a dead body about!  And, whilst not the most exciting sewing, my work will be seen by thousands (tens of thousands?) of people at the exhibition; that's definitely a first :o)

It's also a little last minute, they have to be shipped on the 3rd January, so I am wasting no time and this evening has been spent sewing the first two of the five covers.  I picked the smallest ones and three hours and over 10 metres of sewing later they may be done but I'm going to be seeing way too much black cotton drill for Christmas week, next time I'm going for festive red!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Stilton, Spinach and Mushroom Towers with Apple and Cranberry Chutney

Please ignore my bottom layer test-dish-lazy half circle!
The wonderful Vegan Dad blog posted a wonderful Thanksgiving recipe which I persuaded the 10yr old and the boyf to try this weekend as I thought that it would be a wonderful starter for the Christmas Eve dinner that I am planning.  There was one possible issue, the tofu, and although they ate it, even Vegan Dad's gorgeous recipe (and we all agreed on that) couldn't convert them!

We also came to the conclusion that it would be a step too far for our carnivore friends who are coming to dinner.  Like the 10yr old and the boyf, my friends (all of whom are al*  so great cooks and foodies) have been very understanding and accommodating of my new eating habits.  In a similar vein, when I cook for them I take into account that this probably wouldn't be their first choice for an evening's dinner and so I don't push them too far out of their comfort zone.  When cooking for friends I go for mainly vegetarian dishes that I can veganise for myself.

So I got to thinking.  I love towers of food, I loved the Apple and Cranberry Chutney from Vegan Dad's recipe and similarly the spinach stuffing.  I needed a tofu replacement and instantly thought blue cheese and mushrooms.  This is my first attempt and I'm pretty pleased with it, it's buttery, salty and very tasty and who can argue with spinach and mushrooms.  For tonight I didn't make the chutney again, I just needed to create a tower which would work with its wonderful maplely sweetness.

*    *     *     *     *     *     *

Stilton, Spinach and Mushroom Towers with Apple and Cranberry Chutney

Makes 4-6 portions.
vzYou need a large frying pan and a 1.5-2 inch plain circular cutter.

Apple and Cranberry Chutney - as per Vegan Dad's recipe, follow the link above.

Sourdough Circles

1-2 loaves sourdough bread, deep enough to allow 1.5-2 inch circles to be cut out of a slice
Soya Margarine
Salt and Pepper

Mushroom Layer

4-6 Chestnut Mushrooms, sliced - 1 medium/large mushroom per person
Soya Margarine

Stilton and Spinach Layer

150-200g baby spinach
1 leek, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tbsp apple cider
6-7 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped off
Soya Margarine
Salt and Pepper

1. Make the chutney as per the recipe and set aside, keeping warm.  The chutney is moist but not runny and as there is no tofu layer, which was quite moist, I would add a little more maple syrup and apple cider as I reheated the chutney prior to serving and drizzle it over the final dish.

2.  Heat the oven to 100C.   Melt approx. a dessert spoon of margarine in a large frying pan with a good glug of EVOO.  Add the mushrooms and fry for 5 minutes or so, enough so that some of the juices escape but they are not too dry.  Put the mushrooms in an oven proof dish and cover with foil, place in the oven to stay warm.

3. In the same frying pan, add some more margarine and EVOO and lightly fry the leeks and garlic until the leeks are soft (2-3 minutes).  Add the thyme leaves and the apple cider, let it reduce lightly for another minute and then add the spinach and cook until most of the spinach has wilted.  Again this will rest in the oven, so don't overcook it now.  Transfer to an ovenproof dish and add small cubes of stilton, to taste.  I added 5 pieces to the test (single) portion.  Gently stir it evenly into the spinach mixture, cover with tin foil and place in the oven; the stilton will melt into the spinach mixture as it sits in the oven.

* For a vegan version, I would replace the cheese with a couple of teaspoons of French Grain Mustard.

4.  Slice the sourdough bread into enough slices to cut two 1.5-2 inch circles per person.  Butter them on both sides with margarine and place them into the frying pan.  Fry them till golden brown on one side, flip and season well.  Once the second side is golden brown, flip a second time and season.

5.  Make the towers.  Place the cutter on a plate and a sourdough circle inside.  Gently press it down.  Ease the cutter up to the top of the bread and layer half a portion of mushrooms on top.  Add a portion of the spinach mix to the top of the cutter height, gently pressing in place to form a firm filling.  Again ease the cutter up and place the second half of the mushrooms on top of the spinach.  Remove the cutter and gently place the second sourdough disc on top.  Finally top with a spoonful of chutney, scatter a little more on the plate and drizzle some chutney sauce as dressing.

6.  Serve with a watercress and wild rocket salad, with a mustard and olive oil dressing.  Enjoy!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Jumpers for the Chooks

The poor chooks have gone into moult late again and the coldest weather has come just as they are at their baldest.  They are miserable and cold, missing Randy and off lay.  They normally don't mind the winter, so they need a little help to keep them warm... jumpers!

The lovely people at Little Hen Rescue, who do such great work with ex-battery hens, have a pattern which I borrowed, and the boyf and the 10yr old found me a pair of very festive fleece blankets. 

I drew the pattern out and cut six pieces out, three spotty and three red (double-sided jumpers).  The pattern recommends velcro fastenings but I have none to hand, so I used the same gold ribbon that I used on the Victorian Costume

I sandwiched it between the two layers and pinned it in place.  I then zigzag stitched around the edge of the jumper.  I didn't stitch around the neck seam as I wanted to keep it's flexibility.

Three Hen Jumpers.  Very festive too!

Two rather bald hens, who I bribed out of the run with a pile of soggy leaves!

Sometime later.... three stroppy chickens looking rather like the Beast from Maggie and the Ferocious Beast!  The jumpers went on pretty fuss-free (mostly) but I took the opportunity to vaseline their legs: the girls do not like it when I vaseline their legs, not at all.  By the time they'd gone to sulk in the coop they were really rather annoyed with me and clucking away telling me off!

Girls jumpers done, I cut out the rest of the fleece for jumpers for the lovely Gail at Farplace Animal Rescue, who has some new girls who could use a little extra warmth.  Just need some velcro and then they can go in the post.

Kindle Fabric Cover Tutorial

It's definitely feeling like the last rush to the finish line here.  There may still be a week to go till Christmas, but it feels like it all needs to be done NOW!  No bad thing, I can then relax for a week, and rejuvenate in time for the festivities :)

The 10yr old is an avid reader and, in our little cottage, books tend to pile up on the floor for lack of storage space: so the boyf and I decided to get her a Kindle 4 this year.  One of the last minute jobs was to make a cover for it, it will go everywhere with her for a while and as careful as she is, I don't want to weather the "it's scratched!!" storm!

This is a very easy cover, well it should have been, I was making it in a rush and the cover in her stocking is actually version 3!  But, don't rush and it's a nice simple job.

You will need a lining fabric, I had a beautiful dark grey wool scrap, you could use felt instead; and an outer fabric, the 10yr old has had a yard of cotton with a beautiful bird design on it sat around forever, I stole a little of that!  I saw patterns online for other Kindles and the IPad that used oilcloth or waterproofed cotton, this could also be a good idea, I may make her an all-weather cover another day.  You could also add ribbon ties and any embellishments that you want.

I looked at other patterns which seemed to allow a lot of movability within the case and needed ribbon ties or buttons to close; this was something I wanted to avoid as anything that can slip out or relies on a 10yr old to remember to close it properly will invariably leave her with one damaged Kindle.  I was going for the snug fit cover!

So, I laid the kindle on the felt, which I had folded in half and pinned in place.  The long side of the Kindle sat against the fold and I drew around it.  I then stitched 1-2mm on the outside of the line along one short edge and the other long edge, making a pocket with a top opening.  On the top edge I trimmed the fabric to match the height of the Kindle and on the sewn sides, I trimmed the fabric to 3-4mm from the stitch line.  The Kindle fit snugly inside.  Do not turn it inside out.

Wool lining, stitched along two sides and trimmed.
 I then laid the lining on the outer fabric which was again folded in half (right sides together) and pinned in place.  I roughly trimmed it to size, leaving an 1 inch excess as shown below.  I placed the fold of the lining against the fold of the outer fabric drew around it.

The lining works as a template for the outer fabric.
 Again, on the two stitched seams, bottom and side, I stitched 1-2mm away from the line that marked the edge of the lining and trimmed it close.  On the top, opening, edge I left the 1 inch excess.

The outer lining was turned inside out and pressed in place, the inner lining then eased inside.  In turning the outer fabric, the long seam is now on the opposite side to that of the lining, which makes for a smoother finish and the stitched edge of the lining gives a little more definition to the folded side of the outer fabric.

Once the lining was in place, I folded the 1 inch excess at the top in half, pressed it; folded it again to cover the lining and pressed again for a crisp edge.  This was pinned in place and in the photo below I also show that at this point you could pin ribbon ties in place, though I decided not to use them as the idea is that this cover will not need a closure.

You could then slip stitch the top edge closed for a hidden finish or stitch it down with a contrasting thread or decorative stitch.  I decided to simply straight stitch it because I want to add some embellishments after Christmas.  My sewing box is temporarily packed away (it sits where the Christmas tree now is) and in it is a pretty blue sequin trim.  It's those things that the 10yr old likes to have a say in, so this is the basic pocket, we'll have an afternoon of frills and furbelows after Christmas!

And there it is, one Kindle cover.  Once fully in, the top of the Kindle sits just beneath the top of the cover, protected but easy to get too and if you were to put the Kindle partly in, as it is in the picture, and then pick up the cover by the end, it takes quite rough shaking (nerve-wracking shaking!) to shake the Kindle loose... The idea was that it would stay on, whatever was happening, unless deliberately removed and I'm pleased to say that it works - I'm pretty happy that this cover will be 10yr old proof!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Essentials of Life

I saw this quote yesterday and just had to do something with it.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Falling Snow HTML

...and thanks to Daniel at I have a little falling snow in blogland.  Shame there's none outside to be walking through, photographing and playing in; but crisp, sun-filled winter's days aren't half bad either!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Glorious Chaos!

Well, my dinning room looks like the Elves at Santa's workshop have upped and rioted!

And I have an evening, or part thereof, to myself; when, in theory, I could at least make a big dent in sorting it.  I have even poured myself a restorative glass of port in preparation.... yeah, no!  I am instead catching up on a little FB, typing this and planning to do a little handstitching on Dolly's jacket.  That poor doll will be dressed for Christmas!

Oh, and promised, a peak at the days of the boyfs advent calendar opened thus far; I aimed for a mix of romantic, 50's naughty, "this'll get you thinking" and traditional Christmas Advent Calendar Boring!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Borlotti Bean and Savoy Cabbage Soup

The January 2012 edition of County Living landed on the doormat the other day and I was pleased to see lots of good veggie recipes this month.

One of them was a Borlotti Bean and Savoy Cabbage soup, which originally called for bacon, but was easily adaptable into a vegetarian/vegan soup and sadly didn’t last long enough to take any photos, plus the chooks loved it as a little cold weather treat!

You will need for, 6 good servings:

Chilli oil, a good dollop, enough to coat all the vegetables nicely
2 carrots, finely sliced
2 stick celery, finely sliced
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2-3 good sized (medium at least if it’s three) potatoes
½ a medium sized savoy cabbage, finely sliced
2 stalks of fresh rosemary
1200ml vegetable stock
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin borlotti beans, drained
Ground black pepper
1 tbsp pesto per serving (shop bought or I made my own, see below)
Parmesan rind and flakes (for the vegetarian option)

I started off by sweating the carrots, celery, garlic, onion and rosemary in the chilli oil until softened, approx. 10-15 mins.  You don’t have to use chilli oil, but I wanted to have an alternative to the tanginess that the bacon would have offered the original dish, and to give extra warmth to the final taste.

I then added the potatoes, tossed them with the other vegetables for a couple of minutes and then added the stock and tinned tomatoes.  At this point you could also add the parmesan rind.

This was left to simmer, covered, for 30-40 minutes, until all the vegetables were cooked.  I stirred it occasionally and after, the 25 minute mark, would taste to potatoes, I like them cooked but with a little bite.

Whilst this was cooking I blitzed 2-3tbsps olive oil, a large bunch of basil, approx. 50gms pine nuts and some lemon juice (only a tsp or so, to taste) in my blender to make the pesto.  For a vegetarian version, you can add 30-40gms of parmesan to this.

Finally, I added the cabbage and beans and cooked for another 5-10 minutes and then seasoned with ground black pepper. 

The soup was served with a tbsp of pesto on top and crusty bread with soy margarine.  You could also add parmesan flakes for the vegetarian version.  Delicious!

Next time, I will add peas at the same time as the cabbage and beans, or shortly thereafter, for that lovely bright green sunniness.  I am also contemplating mixing sweet potato in with the others, for a thicker and slightly sweeter soup.  Next time…

Monday, 12 December 2011

Christmas Stockings, a tutorial and template

There really isn't too much to be said about these; they're so quick and easy to make!  Perfect for making in any fabric, I used faux silk on one and felt for the other two.  Decoration came in the form of ribbons, buttons, and hand cut felt shapes.

Start by selecting your fabric, folding it double (right sides together) and laying it flat on the table.  Place the template on top.  In this case, I cheated, and used the rather nice selvedge edge as the top of my stocking, thus saving a little extra sewing!

Place two pins in the lower layer of fabric to mark the width of the top of the stocking.  Fold the top layer back.

Place your decorative ribbons across the width of the stocking.  I chose lace and a pair of very pretty gift wraps that I had, pompoms and tassels on a very fine wire, which I twisted together.  Pin in place.  

* For the felt stockings, the ribbon detailing was replaced with a band of a contrasting felt.

I only decorated the front of my stockings, but both sides could obviously be done with the same method.

Lay the top layer back down, ensuring that the top of stocking edges match.  Lay the template on top and pin in place.

Keeping the template in place, stitch around it on your machine.  Normally I would mark it and remove the paper template but I did not want to disturb the ribbon detailing.

Remove the template and pins, hem the stitched edge and trim.  Turn inside out and you have a stocking!

* For the felt stockings, I used a little fabric glue to stick the trim to the top of the stocking, leaving it open at the bottom.

To hang, take a piece of ribbon and loop it on itself.  Hand sew this to the front of the stocking and then add any other details that you would like.  

My stocking is decorated with a bow/charm that I removed from an overly fussy bra!  Megs and Rascals' stockings were decorated with their initials cut from felt and a button.

The template can be found here, it prints on A4 for the size shown.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Christmas comes to Churchways

It has been (secretly, as I'd never show it!) one of my favourite weekends of the year; decorating the house for Christmas.  We don't have huge amounts of decorations but everything that we have has meaning, a memory and a story.  I particularly love my tree, each year we add just a couple of new things, and it is becoming the story of our life.

One of the joys of this house is the fireplace and the chance to finally properly hang some stockings!  The 10yr old was given one as a baby by her Nantie, a couple of years ago I modified a shop-bought one for the boyf (may need to rectify that some day) and so we had a pair.  But, as the 10yr old rightly pointed out this weekend, we were missing a couple, or three, and so I spent the afternoon filling the gap.  Megs, I and Rascal the Cat now have our spot on the mantelpiece; fabulously easy, I made all three in an hour.  I'll post a quick tutorial tomorrow, but for now here are a couple of pictures.

My new stocking is faux green silk and ribbon details, Megs has red spots and the 10yr old's is the needlepoint .
The boyf's stocking is the great big red one... Rascal's is a manly blue.
I love the top of my stocking!
I followed thorough with the polka dots on Megs stocking.
And Rascal's is a lovely spot of citrus colour at the end of the row.
 Now back to wrapping those presents... Happy, nearly, Christmas everyone!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Christmas ECard Designs

As random as the day job is, it occasionally allows for a creative treat.  This week, ecards for the company in the corporate colours and with a distinct snowflake theme.

Oh, and the boss's personal cards; the is frame, in which I then put pictures of his grandchildren; I do so LOVE these snowflake brushes!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

RIP Chook

I buried the fabulously named Randy today.  She was our adopted girl and had a special place in my heart.
Six months just wasn't long enough but I hope she was happy here.

I am also, most definitely, done with burying any more of my animals this year.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

My new bookshelves

My able assistant demonstrates the product!

I love these!  A pair of old Adam Kern bottle crates which we picked up last weekend at the local antiques market.  They are beautiful, well made, solid wood with a wonderful patina.  We removed the bottle racks from the bottom and stacked them on the floor.  Perfect.

Christmas Chutney

I don't know about you, but sometimes there is nothing nicer than waking up early on a cold, wet winter's morning and spending the morning making chutney. It's the combination of relaxed cooking and warm, spicy, comforting smells. So, this morning I made the Christmas Chutney, using a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe.

Fig and Cranberry Chutney, makes 2-4 jars

500g onions, chopped
Scrap of oil
1kg diced apples, any will do but try to include some Bramleys
500ml cider vinegar
400g demerara sugar
200g dried figs, diced
125g dried cranberries
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Generous glass of port
5cm piece root ginger, roughly chopped
6 cloves
12 cardamom pods
1 tsp coriander seeds
100g walnuts, roughly chopped

Start by sweating the onion in a scrap of oil then add the apple. Pour over the vinegar and sugar and and once it's had a good stir and the sugar has dissolved then fun can start.

Add the fruits to the pot then after that the orange zest and juice, followed by the port.

Next it's time to put together your spices. Tie the ginger, cloves, cardamom pods and coriander seeds in a clean square of muslin and secure with string. Immerse the pouch deep in the simmering chutney and let it bubble away for an hour or so, making sure to stir it regularly so it doesn't catch on the bottom.

Add the walnuts and cook for a final 30 minutes. If you can part your chutney and see a little bit of pan on the bottom you are done.

Decant the warm chutney into sterlised jars, seal with vinegar-proof lids and allow to cool.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Boyfs Advent Calendar

It's the first day of Christmas and I can finally show you one of the little Christmas projects that I've been working on, an advent calendar for the boyf.  I can't say too much, as he does read my blog :) but it starts with a hint as to how many days he has left to buy my present!  (though I have to admit, he's beaten me to it this year...)

The front and back panels of the calendar were put together in Photoshop, using a Mari Koegelenberg template from The Digichick website, some beautiful Karla Dudley fonts and brushes and a snowflake brushset that I am just in love with.  I cut a template for the top flaps and used that to cut the top layer, the template had the fold lines printed.  Then I double-sided taped each and every line, I didn't want any gaps or lifts, and held my breath as I matched the top and bottom layers.  It was then mounted onto a sheet of A4 black card, I printed a title panel for the side and detailed with some matching gosgrain ribbon.  I'll post some more pics of the bottom layer later in the month.
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