Monday, October 31, 2011

A very exciting update...

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Mine involved discovering a gorgeous kitchen shop in Horsham, losing at Monopoly ( and it was all looking so hopeful!), a wonderful woodland walk and making a draught excluder...tutorial coming soon! But the most exciting thing of all this weekend is...

The Blackberry Grove facebook page has been born! You can check it out here.

This is the first step towards being fully up and running online. We are in the process of setting up our own website and ebay shop but the blog and facebook will be our main outlets for now.

I am so excited about all the beautiful things that we have found and I'm sure that you will love them.

These are happy companions in my sewing box and they brighten up my many misadventures with the sewing machine.
 And how cute is the tooth fairy cushion:

 I really hope you like what you see, the prices and more stock are available on the facebook page. There is plenty more to come so I will keep you updated :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

scrum-diddly-umptious...

So baking counts as a craft right? Well I'm counting it as one today.

I thought I'd let you in on a deeelicious recipe for chocolate pudding that I found. It tasted like a cross between chocolate cake and brownie...and then the sauce! Oh the rich chocolatey caramelly sauce...mmm yum!

I apologise now for no photos...but you see, it just smelt so good it needed to be eaten. Right away. and my kitchen was in a mess.

Sticky chocolate pudding with Chocolate caramel sauce - serves 6.

Ingredients
75g butter
150g soft brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
75g dark chocolate, melted and left to cool
150g self raising flour

For the sauce:
200g dark chocolate
250ml double cream
2 tbsp dulche de leche
1 tsp vanilla essence

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C and either grease or line a 1 litre oven proof dish with baking paper

2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy.

3. Gradually add the egg, beating well after each addition.

4. Finally stir in the melted chocolate and fold in the flour. (it will be quite thick so don't worry!)

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until just set in the middle (25 minutes did the job for me!)

6. For the sauce you need to boil a small amount of water in a saucepan and sit a glass bowl on top (but not touching the boiling water). Break up the chocolate and add it and the cream to the bowl. Stir regularly until the chocolate has melted and combined with the cream. Remove from the heat. Finally stir in the dulche de leche and vanilla essence until smooth.

And to help you realise how much you want to have chocolate pudding here's a picture from good food (not of this actual recipe)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A weekend full of firsts...

This weekend I:

...wore my winter coat for the first time - whilst feeling a little sad to finally admit summer is over, I also love get layered up for winter so it was with a little excitement that I finally pulled my lovely snuggly red coat out from storage (i.e. a rubbish bag on top of the wardrobe).

...finally had french onion soup...for the first time. Do you ever get a food craving which drives you (and also your husband) mad until you succumb to it? Well, that for me, has been french onion soup. I realised a little while ago that I had never had it but was certain that it would be the most tasty and delicious soup I could ever have and kept looking up recipes for it but ended up just staring at pictures of soup. It was starting to get a little strange so when I spotted it on a menu at the weekend I finally tried it...and it was as delicious as I thought!

...bought christmas decorations...I have never, ever bought anything related to Christmas before December until this year- but these were very very pretty and that is the excuse I'm using to justify my actions :)

...and finally the most exciting of firsts this weekend was our first wedding anniversary! We had such a lovely weekend, jam packed with fun. On Saturday we went to our church where we got married and celebrated our friends wedding! It was surreal to think that that time last year it was us at the front starting our amazing adventure together. The weather was amazing so we celebrated our anniversary by spending the rest of the weekend outside visiting pretty places and spoilt ourselves by getting dreesed up for a tasty meal at the restaurant where we celebrated our engagement (where the above soup was tried!).

This photo doesn't do it justice but our camera died on us straight after this photo - grrr!

 Oh I love Autumn so so much!

Monday, October 17, 2011

a trip down memory lane...




Do you remember those long car journeys as a child spent with a bit of old knicker elastic pulled up around your thighs securing thread so that you could make a friendship bracelet? No? Maybe that was just me and my sister.

A while ago I had an idea for a fabric bracelet and as I made it, it reminded me of that little childhood love of mine. I loved making friendship bracelets and no trip to my Nana's was ever complete without visiting the local indoor market where there was an endless - to a ten year old - supply of thread. Even to this day I still feel a sense of child-like excitement walking into any habadashery or craft shop.

But I have gone off track, so let's get back to the bracelet in question. I tried quite a few different versions of this with different materials and I loved how the same pattern could look so different depending on what materials were used. My first attempt was with cotton fabric however I found it frayed. a. lot. Whilst I quite like the 'rustic' look, I also did not want to be leaving a trail of thread behind me wherever I went. So I went back to the drawing board and remembered a reel of lace that was languishing in my cupboard. I love how the lace gives it a really soft and romantic effect.Unfortunately I made this bracelet before the idea for the blackberry grove blog was born so I don't have any pictures of this particular bracelet in progress. 

The 'how to' bit

What you need:
6x 40cm strands of lace (2cm wide)
6x 50cm strands of ribbon (0.5cm wide)
Needle and thread
Scissors
A pair of dexterous hands ( not essential but it helps!)

Something important I found while making the bracelets is that the middle plait should be made with material that is thinner than the outer plaits, otherwise the middle plait tends to swallow up the bracelet. Since the ribbon I used was so thin I decided to make it more prominent by using 6 strands. I found this to be much more effective than using a thicker ribbon.

1) Loosely secure 3 strands of lace by tying a knot (not too tight as this will need to be undone later) and weave into a plait. Weave away until the plait is about 1-2cm short of your wrist measurement. Again, secure with a knot. Repeat this process with the remaining three strands of lace and put the two resulting plaits to one side.

2) Tie the six strands of ribbon together and divide into three sections. Weave into a tight plait until it is about 7cm long.

3) Now this is the fiddly bit but it is well worth it. This is also the part which tests my explanation skills...so for the sanity of all, here's a picture:
As I don't have any pictures of the lace bracelet in progress, let's pretend that this grey material is in fact lace.

Now if you were to continue the plait as normal, strand 'A' would be the next ribbon to be plaited. Instead, thread 'A' through the first weave of one of the lace plaits. Now take the ribbon which would be next to be plaited (B) and thread this through the second lace plait. 


4) Now cross 'A' over 'C' and thread 'A' into the weave below which 'B' is threaded and 'C' into the second weave of the left plait. I know it sounds complicated but the picture demonstrates that it is actually really simple!

5) Continue to weave the ribbon as you would in a normal plait but just make sure that you thread through each section of the lace plaits as you go. Pull the ribbon tight regularly to keep the components of the bracelet tight together.

(This photo also demonstrates well what happens when the middle strands are a similar width to the outer strands - you can barely see the plait on the left side)

6) When you reach the end of the lace plaits, continue to plait the ribbon another 7cm (to match the beginning plait) and secure with a knot.

7) Now the tidying up begins! Get your needle and thread ready and choose an end to start with. untie the two lace plaits and pinch together under the ribbon plait. Slightly twist the two plaits together and fold the fabric over.


Now sew your thread through the fabric with a starting stitch ( feel free to enlighten me on what the correct name is for that stitch...I just made that one up but I'm sure you know what I mean!) or tie a knot to make it secure and sew the lace together. As this bracelet was being made for me I cheated a little and after securing the lace together I wrapped the thread around the end of the bracelet multiple times to pull the lace close together and make it look neater from a distance. and after securing the thread again with that stitch, cut the thread.
And there you have it, one pretty bracelet to wear again and again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lovely kitchens

The kitchen is definately one of my favourite spaces in a house. There is something so inviting about either cooking with your family or just sitting having a cuppa with a friend. Don't you find that when you have people round you always end up chatting in the kitchen rather than on the comfy seats?! Our kitchen at the moment is tiny and it is kind of a squeeze to fit more than one person in it at a time (okay so two would fit but I like my space when cooking!) I probably comment on this a bit too much but I really hope that one day I have a kitchen with a big table round which my family and friends can natter away while dinner's cooking...it would also be great to have more work spaces so I can ignore the washing up for that little bit longer ;)

So I spent a little time daydreaming about kitchens...and this is what I dreamt...









Seriously, if we ever have a pantry I think I would spend my whole day in there organising it and thinking of things to cook. I mean it's a cupboard. that you can walk into. genius. Now I'll be the first to admit that I am a bit of a kitchen geek but please consider the fact that we currently only have 1 and 1/2 cupboards for food in total at the moment before you pass judgement on me :)

I love the character that signs bring to a room:




While looking for craft inspiration on Pinterest I came across lots of ideas for the kitchen, some things I could do now but mostly I think I'll be storing them away for future kitchens. But who knows, maybe you have the perfect space for them :)
(Click on the link to find them on my page, which will then lead you to the original source)






Tuesday, October 11, 2011

so here it goes...

Pinterest is a little internet love of mine...I'm normally the last to catch on to things but in case you haven't heard of it you really should check it out. It's a hive full of delicious and pretty things that people from all over the internet have posted. You can either 'repin' their posts or upload your own onto your page. It's a great way to organise your finds and inspire...or perhaps pinspire?... you to get round to making them!




Anyway I stumbled across these lovely flowers on there and fancied making my own version. I had a shirt sitting around which was just asking to be upcycled into these pretty things:





The most time consuming thing was cutting out the petals, the flowers themselves took no time at all.



The 'how to' bit



1) Using a template cut out 8 petals (or however many petals you wish to use, 5 also looks really lovely) from your chosen fabric...I used cotton but whatever you choose it's worth considering whether the material is likely to fray much.



2) Sew 2 running stitches through each petal until all are threaded.







3) Tie both ends of thread together and pull tight, securing with a knot. and, voila, one pretty cotton flower is formed.




For the observant people out there you'll have noticed the above picture has only one running stitch through each petal...and that, my friends, is because I forgot to photograph the first flower in progress! However, I did also make a flower with only one running stitch through each petal which turned out like this:


Now I just need to decide what to do with them...at the moment I'm thinking a strand of flowers on ribbon to adorn my staircase but I'll let you know what I decide!

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