Tuesday, 16 December 2014

1st DIY of Christmas: Polka Dot Pom-Poms

A happy accident; I was trying to make multi coloured pom poms for my Christmas tree when the first one came out like this - a little black and white polka dot pom pom.

First things first, I find the simplest way to make pom poms is to wrap yarn around two cardboard, doughnut shaped discs but by now almost everyone has their own way of making pom poms so I won't go into that - for ease I'm doing it the disc way and only using two colours but you could make lots of different coloured dots to the pom pom by adding different coloured yarn.

So to begin, wrap your main colour around the disc until all the cardboard is completely covered.

Using the other colour wrap six lines of yarn over the white.

Now cover the whole thing in a second layer of white yarn and gently cut around the edge of the circle.

Tie a piece of string between the two pieces of cardboard to hold the yarn together and gently pull the yarn out between the holes in the centre of the card. You should have a ragged little thing that looks nothing like a polka dot pom pom. Fear not, a quick trim with the scissors should set it right.  This is just a very basic example of ways that you can play around with the yarn to make all sorts of patterned pom poms.

Monday, 1 December 2014

The 12 DIYs of Christmas

As someone who doesn't blog often this is a bit of a challenge for me but over the past few weeks I've been busy making Christmas decorations and gifts and thought as a pre-New Years resolution to myself I'd put them online before the 25th.  Throughout December I'll be gradually adding the posts. As I have a relatively short attention span expect quick and easy DIYs, nothing should take longer than half a day.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Sketching Patterns

I was stuck at home yesterday feeling unwell and ultimately feeling sorry for myself. So I found a pen and paper and sat down with a cup of milk and some Lotus biscuits (does anyone else love dipping Lotus biscuits in cold milk?) and started sketching a few patterns. I'm really looking for a simple black and white pattern that I can photocopy on to circle labels, old school style, and stick on to the back of my envelopes this Christmas. This one is a bit mangled but I like the little flaws in it so I may end up keeping it.

Monday, 24 November 2014

travels: Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik and I didn't get off to a good start; I hopped off the bus a stop too early, someone gave me wrong directions, "stay on this road, it's 15 minutes" and I ended up dragging my luggage up a hill and down a hill and back up a hill and back down a hill in temperatures over 90. An hour later I was at my apartment overlooking Stradun in the Old Town and all my troubles were forgotten.

We walked the walls, again in uncompromising sunshine, but didn't get a true understanding of the town until we took the cable car up to the top of (yet another) hill. From there you can see how the red roofed town is neatly packed inside the grey city walls. Our plans to visit Mjlet were scuppered by a tornado - an actual tornado! - that flipped over a few boats in the harbour and effectively shut the city down for 36 hours. We spent most of that time marvelling at the wind and rain and watching europop music videos in the apartment. A bottle of fig brandy mysteriously showed up in our kitchen and was promptly devoured. On the final day we were finally able to venture outside the city walls where did nothing but play cards on the jetty and follow cats to their dens. A weekend well spent I think.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

I love developing an old roll of film and finding that a wonderland of memories are stored on it but every so often a photo pops out that is a complete mystery like this one.  I can't even think of what it is, let alone when I took it.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Aldwych Station


A few photos from the closed Aldwych Station on the Strand.  

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Arcade Fire

It feels like such a long time ago now; after sitting at home watching Arcade Fire at Glastonbury we made an impulsive decision to get some tickets for their Hyde Park show.  100% worth it.  It's hard to believe it is ten years since I last saw them shaking up a tiny, sweaty tent with 'Wake Up', really nothing much has changed other than the sheer size of the stage.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Pansies in the Pavement

I found this little beauty growing out of the pavement by my front door.  They must be hardly little things.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

tea: Garden Tea at Intercontinental Westminter

My friend Claire wanted to do something special for her birthday this year so she picked the Intercontinental's Chelsea Flower Show inspired tea.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

tour: Wilton's Music Hall

Wilton's Music Hall in Shadwell is the world's oldest grand music hall. They run weekly history tours into the auditorium and back rooms which offer a unique chance to nose around the building when it is not being used and to find out more about London's music halls, in particular how Wilton's started and how it has managed to survive two world wars, redevelopment and dereliction.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

baking: Exit Pursued By A Bear Cake

In April, to celebrate William Shakespeare's birthday, the V&A ran a competition called Cakespeare for people to make cakes inspired by the Bard. There were some amazing designs; this is my effort. Obviously it didn't win. The cake, like everything I make, is an easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy sponge.

The Cake
275g caster sugar
300g butter
6 large eggs
300g flour
25g cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp baking powder 3 tsp milk

Cream half the butter and half the sugar, then beat in three of the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and give the mixture an extra blitz until smooth. Finally sift in 150g of flour and one tablespoon of baking powder together and gently fold in with a spatula. Set aside. This will form the white part of the marble cake.

Next cream the remaining butter and the sugar, then beat in the last of the eggs one at a time and again blitz the mixture until smooth. Finally sift in the flour and cocoa powder together and gently fold in with a spatula. This will form the chocolate part of the marble cake.

To marble the cake, put one large tablespoon of white mixture into a greased and lined baking tray and then dollop one large tablespoon of the chocolate mixture on top of that and repeated over until all the mixture was in the bowl. Don't be tempted to mix it all together or spread it out, the weight of the mixture will do all the work itself.

The Icing
200g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cocoa powder

Cream the butter and vanilla until thick but spreadable. Separate a quarter of the mixture and add the cocoa powder for the cake filling. Pipe the rest of the vanilla icing over the cake.

The Chocolate Shards
1 small bar of plain chocolate

Melt the chocolate, pour over a sheet of baking paper and cover with a second sheet. Using a rolling pin gently roll the melted chocolate between the two pieces of baking paper until thin. Put in a fridge to harden. Once hardened the chocolate should be brittle and easy to snap into shard shapes.

The Details
I used a few tubes of chocolate icing to draw the floor board pattern on the cake and floral pattern on the chocolate shard. The Bear is made from black royal icing sculpted into a rough bear shape.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

tea: Le Chandelier

Le Chandelier is a laid back, cosy cafe in East Dulwich. Inside you'll find an odd jumble of old lights, Alice in Wonderland paraphernalia and Moroccan tiling. They have a hearty take on Afternoon Tea. We were given nine finger sandwiches each and big, delicious tarts and slices of cakes and ate until we popped, then they offered us more. Their High Tea is an interesting choice that Stacey regretted makin; she got everything that comes with the standard tea plus a full toasted sandwich. Gut busting!