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Monday, 28 February 2011

Baking Day! The Best Carrot Cake Recipe...

I hate washing up so I start off by weighing out 12 oz sugar and putting it a bowl with half a pint of sunflower oil. Then you add 3 large eggs - I have big and little eggs as I keep bantams so I used four (two big and two small) to make it up.

Then weigh out your 6 oz of plain flour. (I have just experimented and tried to make a gluten free version - I'll let you know how it turns out!)

Add a pinch of salt and three quarters of a teaspoon of both bicarbonate of soda and baking powder.

Beat the eggs into the oil and sugar mixture.

Sift in the dry ingredients.

Then add the carrots - you need 8 oz so I usually weigh whole carrots (less messy!) and allow a bit for peeling and then grate them straight into the mixture.

Pour into a 9"/10" cake tin (doesn't matter really!) and bake at 180 degrees C or 160 degrees if you have a fan oven.

It should take about 45 minutes but check after 40 and it may need longer, test with a skewer - if it comes out clean it's done!

Now for the frosting - yum!
Beat together 6 oz of cream cheese and 6 oz of butter with 8 oz of icing sugar and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract. This makes a lot of icing so I frequently cut the quantities down but keep the proportions the same.

Fork it on as you please! Serve on a cakestand for preference or in this case (as it was a travelling cake) a vintage plate.

Here's the one for the children's party a triumphant cake made by my sister-in-law Caroline and eaten by princesses and princes...

Happy baking, Nic x

It works with a 50/50 mix of ground rice and ground almonds in place of the flour making it gluten free - yippee! It has been devoured during Sew&Crow last night and during a crafty catchup with Jane Southgate this morning...

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Shopped until I dropped...

I paid a visit to the Birmingham NEC at the weekend and had a fabulous time - it was the Craft, Hobbies and Stitch International Trade Fair!

I was supposed to be checking out the ribbons, buttons and fabrics for Halfpenny Home but couldn't resist a look at the Cico Books and Rylands, Peters and Small stand...

and A Green Guide to Country Crafts was amongst the titles beautifully displayed there!

How exciting! Here it is accompanied by the skeins of yarn from The Gedgrave Flock, we dyed them with woad, purple feather reed heads and madder - all beautiful rich and vibrant colours!

But I had a lot of shopping to do! We love ric rac and are always looking out for new and exciting colours and sizes of it. This gorgeous green and sky blue had arrived at Halfpenny HQ during the week but I have found some others, they will be with us very soon...

I was pretty pleased with the recent additions to our range of ribbons but again I have found some others that (I think) are even nicer!

Embroidered ribbon with a vintage feel is always a big hit with us and I couldn't believe my luck when I found several designs and colours that we haven't seen before - I've been frantically taking pictures of them all to get them on the website - they are so lovely!

There was so much to see and there are a lot of treats on their way to us including bias binding in floral prints, polka dots and paisley designs...I was quite worn out with all the excitement!

Visitors to HH HQ have been amused by my attempts to keep the big table clear for cutting fat quarters - I'm trying! I keep getting distracted by the new buttons, these are some of the new cotton poplin prints!

Lovely roses and daises!

Polka dot PVC table covering - who says it's just for tables?! We made bunting with it and with the fabulous gingham bias binding it sets off the OPEN sign a treat!

It makes everyone smile, Nic x

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Ark & Craft & all things nice!

It's been a really rainy day in Suffolk today, but despite the weather, I've had a very enjoyable time! I paid a visit to the Ark & Craft Fayre. It was lovely and buzzy when I arrived with lots of of lovely stalls selling really gorgeous high quality crafts and makes.
Of course, I could not resist the button jewellery stall! There were some really lovely necklaces and bracelets. But this is the one that made it home with me! As if I need more buttons! A girl can never have too many in my view!
I also purchased these gorgeous handmade recycled envelopes. Made from the pages of magazines and newspaper supplements, they are a brilliant way of recycling.

And how much more interesting to receive an envelope like this through the post, than a boring plain one!

I couldn't leave the fayre without purchasing some of Kay's fantastic millionaires shortbread. It was Kay's first time at the Ark & Craft Fayre, with her new business - Lady Galula Eclectic Cakes. In celebration of her new business venture Kay had developed a new flavour - Chilli & Lime millionaires shortbread. I didn't even manage to wait long enough to take a photo of it before trying it out -as you can see from the picture! It was absolutely fabulous!

Anita was also at the Ark & Craft Faye selling some of her gorgeous glass ware. Anita has also fired all our work from our glass workshop day and here are some of my finished pieces.

It's always so exciting to see how things turn out.

OK, I know it is a little premature for Christmas Trees but I'd seen some that Anita had done and decided to get started early!!!

I will be putting hangers on these and think they will make perfect little individual presents. I am already planning another visit so I can increase my forest of trees!

Rory is currently being a very active little boy and is racing up and down the hallway so it has taken me about three times as long to write this post! I did just about manage to snap him sitting still though! One week on and he's growing fast!!
Enjoy your weekend.

Monday, 14 February 2011

I'm in love!

Not the typical Valentines gifts for me this year! A packet of love hearts - remember them?
Rory's arrival into our lives last Friday. What an impression he's made on us already!
We've fallen hook, line and sinker with this little bundle of white fluff.

He may look innocent but he most certainly does have character!

He is just a joy. All that bouncing around though is very tiring and he needs his beauty sleep.

Love is......
I hope Barney approves, and knows that a little bit of my heart will always be his.
Hope you've had a special valentines day too!
Jacqui x

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Spring is in the Air!

Everything on the allotment is bursting into life which must mean that Spring is on it's way!

I'm hoping for sloes on this blackthorn bush this year..

I was worried that I may have planted this garlic a little late due to all the rain that we had last year but it's all sprouted, I love garlic!

The slightly warmer weather made the natural dyeing session we had at Sam's last week a lot easier - Jane Southgate is busy preparing for Rural Collusions and needed a load of stuff dyed blue with woad.
Dyeing with woad is always exciting so we didn't need a lot of persuading to get the dye pots out again!

The dyebath is yellow and the blue only develops when the dye reacts with oxygen in the air. We were dyeing some of the crocheted puffballs along with some wool blankets and some cotton interlining. Jane uses the interlining to make the gills of bracket fungi!

After a great day of dyeing I paid a visit to another artist's studio My Red Studio is just up the road from Halfpenny Home and is where Amy Louise Nettleton is currently working - we were really excited to hear that she had found somewhere nearby and I couldn't wait to see her studio.

Red, red, red!

Jacqui very generously treated me to a glass workshop with Anita Honeyball for Christmas with the condition that she came along too! Jacqui has attended a couple of these sessions before and I've always been so very impressed with all of the things that she has produced and it's almost all made with recycled materials that would otherwise be thrown away.
Jacqui and I were joined by our good friends Lisa and Gay as well as Maria B who organises the Ark and Craft Markets in Needham Market held on the 3rd Saturday of every month. Anita will also be at this month's event which will be on Saturday 19th February.

Anita's studio is a treat for the eyes - there are beautiful objects everywhere! These cheese plates are made from bottles that have been heated in a kiln.

You can't help but be inspired to create when you see all the pieces of coloured glass...

As you can see in the picture of the table below we were all very productive!

All that creativity can make you very hungry!

We even managed to make good use of one of the bottle cheese plates during lunch, I love glass so a whole day of playing with it was a real treat for me - I can't wait to see how all the pieces look after they have been fired!

Just look at the fantastic colours of the 'Stingray' glass bowls - I have a one in a kingfisher blue which I brought from Anita the very first time I met her at Treasures of Suffolk and I really love it! What a great way to spend a week, Nic x