Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Banana Cake

I'm not much of a baker but the girls love to do it and my husband loves cakes so they do go down well on the occasions when I make one. We had some miserable looking bananas and with it being half term, I thought it might be a good idea to bake with them.  A quick internet search delivered this recipe:

2 Ripe Bananas overripe is best)
170g caster sugar
170g S.R.flour
170g soft margarine
3 eggs
Vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 160C/ Gas mark 3
Use a food processor to blend all ingredients well
Pour into a lined loaf tin
Bake for 1 hour
Cool and enjoy

Very easy instructions so I gave it a go: 

I mixed the butter and sugar together and then folded the sifted flour in using a metal spoon,  I then added the eggs one at a time and finally the chopped bananas.  I used my hand blender to really mix it all and get a light  mixture.  The recipe here said to use vanilla essence but another recipe had said to use golden syrup or treacle with spices so I also added a tbsp of golden syrup and tsp of cinnamon. I greased the inside of my loaf tin and then poured in the mixture.

 It goes into the preheated oven for an hour and presto:

It smelled amazing and slipped out of the tin really easily without breaking/ crumbling.

It's a moist sponge so perfect with a cup of tea- especially while still warm but I will serve it with hot custard tonight which makes a great autumn/ winter pudding.  It was very easy to do and I will definitely be doing this to use up ripe bananas from now on!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Mag review

In my previous post I said I had been reading lots of magazines and I thought I would share my thoughts on them.  It's just my opinion and in no way should it be seen as authoritative but I'd be interested to know what other people think of the craft magazines that are out there.  I have a subscription to Mollie Makes and so am obviously a fan.  I am familiar with it's layout and pictorial style but I wondered how it compared to other publications in terms of value for money; number of articles, number of tutorials, how many pages (and how many of which are adverts!) whether each has its own unique selling point and finally- the best gift!!!
I am comparing them but I must point out that they are from different months but I quick look tells me that there are the same number of pages each month.

I'll start with 'Homemaker' Issue 11 (November 2013)
Cost: £4.99,     Pages: 114 (of which are adverts- 14)     Number of Articles: 10    Number of Tutorials: 22.  The free gift was some lovely paper bunting which is self assembly) but in all honesty, it was the reason I bought the magazine.  It is lovely and the magazine is also good.  It also includes 8 baking recipes and some pages on flower/ plant arrangements.  I think it is a really good magazine for a creative person who likes lots of different crafts as there is a good variety but I think the projects/ tutorials are quite basic so perhaps appropriate for a beginner.  There wasn't any knitting or crochet projects which may appeal to someone who already has a knitting subscription but would like something a little bit different.

Mollie Makes Issue 23 (November 2013)

Cost: £4.99,    Pages 98 (of which are adverts: 14)    Number of Articles: 10  Number of tutorials:12, with templates.  The free gift this month was a beautiful 2014 calendar and of a high quality. (Their gifts are usually a make your own kit or something to add to your haberdashery).  Their projects are predominantly sewing, knitting and crochet although there are some other crafts covered too including jewellery and papercraft.  Their articles are the longest and most in-depth with some covering 5 pages.  It is printed on much thicker, matt paper and so the feel is that of a high end product and their photography is probably the best of all the magazines I have looked at.  It feels very on trend and the instructions for the projects are clear and detailed with usually a full page dedicated to pictures and instructions.

Crafts Beautiful Issue 255 (July 2013)
Cost: £4.99    Pages 122 (of which are adverts 25)  Articles: 9   Projects:32 (mostly cards with additional variations).  The free gift was beautiful stencils- 6 8x8" sheets with a variety of flowers, birds and sentiments (including some Christmas images).  The main focus I believe this magazine has is papercrafts but they do also have some sewing and knit projects too.  The articles are quite short but there are reviews of many items and the advertised gift for the following month was excellent too.  It is very inspirational for a card maker/ scrap booker and I enjoyed reading it and would buy it again but it isn't my favourite as I'm not a papercrafter really.

Craft seller- Ah ha!  I have 2 issues of this magazine and when I started writing this review, I had the older version next to me but I have just picked up the other most recent issue and it has undergone a major facelift. I will review the more recent one as it seems more relevant.  I will point out that I actually had a few minor criticisms on the earlier issue which have been addressed in the latest one which is encouraging (also to me as perhaps I do have a clue on these things)

So- begin again: Craftseller Issue 28 (October 2013)
Cost: £4.99   Pages: 106 (of which are adverts: 21) but there are also 8 pages of free printed paper.   Articles: 8, Projects: 12 now with templates and an additional 3 baking recipes.  The free gift was a book of Halloween ideas to do with kids which is timely for half term and has some good projects although not massively unique.This issue has a striking 'togetherness' with a theme running throughout.  There are lots of reviews of items, blogs and books with oodles of pages showing interaction with the customers.  There were competition pages, star letter and advice pages with good responses and a strong sense of this being a magazine for the serious crafter.  The projects were varied; sewing, crochet, cards, jewellery and knitting.  It's unique selling feature is that I think thks magazine is all about the business of selling crafts and so it is aimed at those who are thinking of selling their wares and thus has articles on how to increase business and how to write a good blog.  My favourite improvement was the switch to the thicker matt paper.

So overall, I will be buying more copies of homemaker but not I doubt I will become a subscriber as I think the projects are more for a beginner and more varied than I want in a subscription  It is however a little treat I may buy for myself.  I am very impressed with the new craftseller as it has a lot of the attributes which has made me enjoy Mollie Makes but with the added business elements.  I am less likely to buy Crafts Beautiful as it is more card making than sewing.  I still love Mollie Makes for being the most on-trend, the luxurious feel but also because I think it has the best articles.  I love Pinterest and I think I could find a lot of the other magazine's contents on there in terms of their projects, and I wouldn't spend £5 on a magazine just for a gift that I may not use.  Whereas I love all the gifts from Mollie Makes, it is the area of crafting I like the most, and it's a good read in the bath!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Imaginary conversations/ posts

I find myself thinking of posts that I think I have made and then realise that I merely thought of them and regretfully did not actually type them.  The last few months have been a whirl where I don't know if I'm coming or going but I can honestly say I am very content and well...Happy.  My back being bad has definitely slowed me down on the unpacking and making a nest instinct, but it has not quenched my thirst for all things crafty.  Ebay has been haunted by my searches for crewel embroidery, patchwork quilts, books, fabric, dies and many many other crafty bits.  So although I have been somewhat laid up, I have been preoccupied with crafty musings and the meaning of life.  This is helped by the visits from family members bearing gifts (in the form of craft magazines).  I also purchased 2 new Cath Kidston books; 'make' and 'stitch'.  I literally cannot wait to start having a go at some of the projects in her books.  I continue to receive Mollie Makes which has not disappointed me and am awaiting a birthday present in the form of a new subscription crafty mag! I am keeping a journal of all the ideas I am getting as I know I will forget them all by the time I get the time to craft after I have caught up on all the unpacking and housework!  I have also been doodling some more and have begun to assemble my very first scrap book which I will share with you very soon.
I have no pics to upload this post but wanted to 'touch base' as I realised that I had only imagined I had written some of the above, albeit in better detail with images, as is always the way when we imagine we have done something which we have not.  I shall endeavour to meet my own expectations better next week as I have been informed of several new followers and I do not want to disappoint my existing faithful readers, or those who are new (welcome).  I feel awfully pretentious talking to you who are mostly good, long-standing friends as 'readers' and am afraid that anyone new will now think Urghhh I'm not reading her blog again.  I shall therefore never mention it again other than to say, 'Thankyou for taking an interest in me and what I'm doing', and I will try to post more regularly.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Big Shot has landed

I hinted in my last post that I had made an exciting new purchase whilst being laid up.  Well it has arrived- yay!  I have been very disciplined and only had a very little play as we have lots going on this week and I must reserve my energy.  To say that my mind is in overload creatively is an understatement!  When I get to grips with it properly, I will post more.  As you will know, I am not really a paper crafter and thus it may come as a surprise to you that I bought one but that is because.... it also CUTS FABRIC!  So for crafting and appliqué, it is amazing.  I'm hoping to do lots and lots more sewing now that we're getting our flat sorted and I have to take it easy due to my back.  It's the perfect excuse.  Double yay! My husband also surprised me with a Singer.  So something old and something new (the big shot is a duck egg Blue, so I just need to borrow something to make it a match made in heaven).  I'm really looking forward to using the singer with the quilting as it is supposed to stitch the wadding to the top layer very very well due to the extra weight behind the stitches.  Without further waffling, I'll upload the pics of my first die cut and re-post soon with my fabric experiments.

The moment of truth

 My first roll of the handle was to emboss (I chickened out of cutting!)   Here are the results!

Now for the big moment- Cutting!  I did scratch the plates first time through so it was a whimper in the moment but then I was keen to do more.  The on-line tutorials had warned me the plates would get scratched which I am pleased I knew in advance as I think I would have been alarmed.  

I chose contrasting colours for the first go- admittedly, I didn't give it a great amount of thought as I was too excited.

The finished piece.  So excited to do hundreds of these so expect to see them on lots of future projects.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

best made plans....

I have found it quite difficult to manage my time between the regular housework, to creating our new home and then finding time and justifying that time for crafts.  Then, disaster strikes.  I had a very embarrassing and painful incident that I fear will go down in our family history last week when I put my back out getting dressed.  I was in the flat on my own with 2 toddlers and our baby with no phone to hand when my back decided to temporarily stop working causing me to collapse onto the bathroom floor. 1 hour and 40 mins later, 4 paramedics arrived, and with the use of lots of gas and air and a stretcher, I was taken to hospital.  I stayed the night and then returned home to the sad realisation that all my plans are on hold.  I may be able to resume some crafty projects but I cannot attend the sewing course I have registered for or use my sewing machine for a while.  Alas, I am feeling sorry for myself in the sewing regard.  All is not doom and gloom though as there are plenty of other avenues I can pursue including turning my doodles into scrapbook pages and the purchase of a new toy!  I will try to post again soon :D