Crochet bracelet

Crochet has been my long-term project this summer and I’ve been (slowly) working on a blanket with just a simple double crochet stitch as I’m not ready for anything more fancy than that yet… granny squares can wait!

My sister sent me the Pin for this one; crochet bracelets which didn’t look beyond my capabilities so I gave one a go. The instructions weren’t great for a novice such as myself, and making the loop at the end for the button to go through was a struggle, with lots of undoing and starting again, so I ended up cobbling something together which is probably nothing like the instructions say. Also attaching the button was my own brainwave as by that point I’d given up on the instructions completely.

It looks… ok… if you don’t look too closely, but in all honesty I’d probably never wear it (so if you want it, just ask!) but maybe when my crochet skills are a bit more honed, I’ll have another go.

Not my best...
Not my best…

Link here: http://www.1dogwoof.com/2014/02/crochet-wrap-bracelet-button.html

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Rhubarb bundt cake

My second Pinterest rhubarb recipe. As lovely as the French rhubarb cake was, I was keen to try another recipe… and to use my new bundt cake tin! I found several recipes, but chose this one for the interesting addition of Greek yogurt to the cake mix, and making rhubarb syrup for the icing… Though that was a little ill-fated (more on that later!)

How it was *supposed* to look
How it was *supposed* to look

The recipe was very easy to follow and did make enough mix to fill the bundt tin. But then disaster! I didn’t read the recipe properly to see that I needed icing sugar to mix with the syrup for the ‘drizzle’ on top. I came up with an alternative though, and that was to treat it like a lemon drizzle cake and poke holes in the top of the baked cake and pour the syrup over it. This would have worked really well had it not been for the fact that I hadn’t quite baked the cake for long enough, and also I could have done with whisking it more to make it a lot airier, as the resulting cake was delicious but very dense and gooey inside. I’ll know what to do next time!

How it turned out... not the prettiest, but damn tasty!
How it turned out… not the prettiest, but damn tasty!

Recipe here: http://www.deliciouseveryday.com/rhubarb-bundt-cake/

Painted glass bottles

I’d seen glass bottles painted in various ways on Instagram and Pinterest, and I’d slowly been collecting interesting jars and bottles over the last few months to have a go at painting. I liked bottles with raised lettering as they add a little bit of extra detail.

After looking on Pinterest to see if I could just paint on emulsion, or use primer, or use chalk paint, I found a good website that suggested a layer of blackboard paint (good thing I still had a huge tin of this left!) then layers of emulsion paint – the blackboard paint would give the chalky finish I wanted.

This took some time as each layer had to dry thoroughly before starting the next coat, and it was also fiddly due to the shape of the bottles. Then it was time for decoration. I’d chosen shades of blue to match the colour scheme in my bedroom (curtains for inspiration again!), and the cream and red hearts to match a small jug on my kitchen window sill. I then had two spare bottles that I decorated any old way to go in the spare bedroom. I used some sandpaper to brush over the raised lettering, to make it stand out too.

Pretty!
Pretty!

The whole process was quite long – two days – but worth the time… I think!

Link here: https://loveoffamilyandhome.net/2014/04/how-to-paint-mason-jars.html

Blackberry pie slice

In the local area there are loads of bramble bushes and you no longer have to wait until October for blackberries – the bushes are heaving with them now. I managed to collect two boxes full but didn’t have the apples for a crumble, so Pinterest to the rescue for two things – a good recipe to try, and whilst looking for that, a site showed up about how to freeze blackberries properly.

My haul
My haul

I had enough blackberries to freeze half and make this recipe too. You start with a pastry-like mix, which is pressed into a dish or tin, and then you add a syrupy blackberry mix before finally crumbling the remaining ‘pastry’ on top. It all ends up like a mix of blackberry pie and crumble, but all in a handy to hold slice.

Looking promising...
Looking promising…

It was easy to make, though not so easy to tell when it was done – maybe use a Pyrex dish so you can see through the glass to the pastry base. It tasted delicious but next time (with the blackberries I froze!) I’d use less lemon zest and juice as it did overpower slightly. Also, I’d keep it in the fridge, as it goes soggy very quickly!

Get in my belly!
Get in my belly!

Recipe here: http://www.thenovicechefblog.com/2013/07/blackberry-pie-bars/

Paper ball garlands

I found these whilst browsing Pinterest and going from one list of suggestions to another. They looked pretty and the site gave a handy template to print out and cut around.

I tried the small size one morning before work (work avoiding)… a bit fiddly to start with and ever so slightly awkward to cut, but a lovely end result. As it was the end of term, with classes on computers (more work avoiding), I decided to do some more – the medium size on two different colours of card (as opposed to the plain white paper of before). This is far more sturdy but harder to slot together, but I liked the contrast of the two colours.

The Pinterest tutorial suggested handily to thread some cotton through the final ‘flower’ to make it easier to hang, which is good if you remember, which I didn’t on the last one so had to dismantle it, nearly ripping the flower.

Overall, easy and effective – with several compliments from my students, as they have been hanging from the side of my computer monitor on my desk.

My balls... hanging off my computer :P
My balls… hanging off my computer 😛

Link here: http://www.lotsofdiy.com/beautiful-paper-craft-3/

French rhubarb cake

I have a patch of rhubarb growing in my garden, and other than stewed rhubarb (memories of childhood) or rhubarb crumble, I didn’t know what else to do with it. I found a fail-safe rhubarb crumble muffin recipe online, which I used several times but I decided I needed a change, so turned to Pinterest.

(How it should look)
(How it should look)

This recipe caught my eye as it is ‘French’ (being a French teacher) and has almonds in (yum). It was an easy recipe to follow, but I didn’t have half the rhubarb it called for, even with my supply being supplemented with some from my mum’s garden. Oh well, I just went for it and saw how it went… and it went well!

It was a very attractive finished cake and was a simple recipe to follow. It could prove a little dry, which may be why it called for so much rhubarb, but that just means it needs to be eaten up quickly whilst it is nice and moist! It was very tasty with a few strawberries as a garnish – something sweet to counteract the tartness of the rhubarb. A definite contender for the old muffin recipe.

My version... with distinctly less rhubarb in it!
My version… with distinctly less rhubarb in it!

Recipe here: http://www.mykitchenintherockies.com/2011/05/20/french-rhubarb-cake/

Clay food jar tags

I got the idea for these from two different places – ‘Kirsty’s Homemade Home’ and Instagram. The Instagram page was selling them for £1.50 each and I was tempted just to order some, until I remembered seeing how ‘easy’ they are to make, according to Kirsty Allsopp. I couldn’t be bothered to search through her Channel 4 site to find the clip of her making them, so I turned to Pinterest instead. This is what inspired me…

TagsHooray! I found a huge pack of modelling clay in Poundland in various colours and I already owned cookie cutters and letter stamps so I could start straight away, and had great fun preparing the tags.

It wasn’t going to prove as simple as that though… I found out the annoying way when the tags wouldn’t harden in the oven. So now I had to turn to Google and I discovered there are actually several different types of modelling clay, some designed not to harden. Great.

One order on Amazon later and I had Fimo to the rescue. These baked perfectly but proved trickier to paint. Pinterest told me to paint them with acrylic paint, leave them to semi-dry then wipe off the excess so only paint would be left in the letter grooves. Nope, the black paint simply smeared across the tag and left a mess. My solution was to leave that to dry then I lightly painted over the tags with white paint to hide the smears, before I varnished them. Not the neatest finish (and the original inspiration look far more professional, but they are made in ceramic rather than Fimo!), so just don’t look too closely!Summer 2015 052

PS. This is the first project for which I actually saved the Pinterest site I used… http://www.poppytalk.com/2010/01/artmind-tutorial-no-1-polymer-gift-tags.html