Monday, 27 December 2010

A Handmade Christmas.....

It's always a challenge buying presents for my family at Christmas because they are all so different and they never know what they want! So, this year I decided to put my thinking cap on and using the skills I have, make the presents. Here are my crafty ventures...

For my sister and brother in law...

I made a pair of birds from a pair of socks, a coat toggle and then I knitted legs and scarves! I also embroidered little hearts onto the wings to just add a final detail.

They're both keen gardeners so I bought some terracotta pots and some blackboard paint. I made a couple of stencils and then painted the shapes onto the pots and to finish off the present I bought some chalk and decorated the box. The idea is that you plant something and write its name on the front of the pot! Nifty!

Oh and a couple of lavender bags for my sisters drawers!

For my Granny...

I made a set of 3 heart shaped lavender bags for her drawers and wardrobe and tied them together with a piece of ribbon.

And for my Mum...

A red knitted scarf

And a handmade bag with edible goodies in it for when she's had a hard day at work.

I'm pretty chuffed with the finished products and I think they went down pretty well too!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Jen's Birthday...Christmas Eve Eve!

Well the festive season continues and today is Christmas Eve Eve only 2 days to go until the man in red comes and I don't mean the postman! Although I suppose technically santa does deliver! Anyway, it's Jen's Birthday in a couple of weeks and I wanted to do something for her birthday early on so I thought what's better than a mini party. The usual suspects were there, cocktail sausages, mini sandwiches, little slices of pizza, cheesy poofs and of course that childhood favourite...a cheese and pineapple hedgehog! These treats aside I've always wanted to make a novelty cake and seeing as Jen loves cats I saw this as a challenge...

I made two round chocolate cakes and cute them into a body shape and a head shape. Then with the leftover pieces I cut out four legs, a tail and a couple of ears and "glued" them into place with icing! Next, I used plain and chocolate buttercream to cover his body in stripes. Then it was time to decorate! I used milk and white chocolate buttons on the body and then for the face I used chocolate buttons for the eyes and I cut liquorice into thin slices for whiskers. Finally for the nose and the toes on the paws I cut malteasers into halves and stuck them on with a little bit of buttercream. And hey prendo the cat cake was finished. I have to say I'm pretty chuffed with the outcome not bad for my first novelty cake. Jen always goes above and beyond for people so this was my way (although small!) of saying thank you. Much love Jenbobs.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

"Walking in a winter wonderland..."

I came out this morning to find these on my drive! They were so cute I had to take a photograph. That's one thing I love about snow is seeing which visitors have been in your garden especially the little foot prints that birds leave behind.

Summative Project...

Ahhhh...I breathe out a long sigh of relief. The first term is done and dusted and so is our last project before Christmas whoop whoop! For this brief we had to produce a piece which summarised what we had learnt during the first semester of Year 2. I didn't want to do another leaflet or booklet so I decided to design a set of little postcards with imagery on one side and text about what I'd learnt on the other. They would then be presented in a container with the title, "Project Survival." Here's the end result.....

Friday, 17 December 2010

Ginger Beard...

I'm not the best when it comes to computers. I'm the kind of person who will ask why the computer screen is black as someone leans over and presses the on button...ah. But this term at uni my skills have really improved and that's got a lot to do with my peers helping me along the way. I don't know how they put up with me to be honest! The cursing, puzzled looks or regular head in my hands when Photoshop decides to do what IT wants to do! My friend Gary is (putting it mildly) a SAINT. He puts up with my incessant questions, I guess he's like the paperclip on Microsoft word when I need help! And I wanted to do something to say thanks for all his support so for Christmas I made him his very own felt cube in his favourite colours and with his name appliqued on. For the past few months he's been growing a beard and moustache combo and unlike most guys where their facial hair starts growing back as soon as they put their razor down, it was a bit more of a challenge! So I made a little ginger moustache and goatee but stuck velcro onto the back so that he can stick them on or detach them from the cube for times when he has facial hair! Many thanks my dear!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Secret Santa...

I live in a house with 6 other art students all of whom are bonkers. But I couldn't have asked for a nicer bunch really they're awesome! We decided to do a secret santa this Christmas, you know the one where you put everyone's name in a hat and draw someone out who you buy a Christmas present for. However, as the name suggests it's a secret! I drew out my housemate Elly and I knew straight away what I was going to give her! I decided to make a sock elephant because yes true to her name she loves elephants. During the summer I did a knitting class and so I decided to put my skills to good use and make him a little accessory too...a little red scarf which finished off the toy nicely.....

Monday, 13 December 2010

My very own website...

As part of our course we had to design and write our own websites using the program Dreamweaver. When I was told this you can imagine my initial reaction was breaking out into a minor cold sweat and then the word HOW! But with some awesome tutition and a bit of magic 2 months later I've done it! I have made my own website and uploaded it to the internet! It's only the first version and I'm sure it will need a lot of editing but it's a start at least! Have a looky...

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Little felt cubes out in the big wide world!

As some of you will know I've been making my little felt cubes for a while now and I've finally gone and got myself an Etsy shop hooray!!! There are six cubes on there for sale at the moment of varying colours and fabrics so take a peek if you get a minute. If you would like a personalised one making please don't hesitate to contact me. I have a wide selection of material so if you have a colour or design in mind then just shout! Over and out!

My Stamp Collection

We have just finished a four week project entitled "Collections," where we had to design and create a book/catalogue about a collection that we owned. When I was little I collected stamps so this was ideal! I really got my teeth into this project and loved every minute. At times it seemed such a daunting task producing so much imagery and wanting it to be a true to what it was about. I made a little book using images from my stamps as well as letters I received over the years from my two penpals and stuck this inside an envelope packet that I designed and illustrated. I'm really proud of what I managed to produce, above are just a selection of photographed spreads, I hope you like them! (Full set of spreads to follow!)

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Beef Stew...

I'm not sure how I found this recipe but it sounded really good and I'd never made a stew before mainly because they take sooooo long to cook and I've never had the time! However, this beef stew didn't seem to take days to make so I thought, right I'll give it a go! I bought some really nice stewing steak from our local butchers and it also gave me chance to use up lots of veg that needed eating up anyway! Served with a Yorkshire Pudding this is beefy heaven! Good food to warm the soul on a cold winter's night!

Ingredients: (serves 4, but I halved it and it works just as well)
4tsp of olive oil
400g stewing steak (lean)
2 onions
4 cloves of garlic (fresh)
200g carrots
200g celery (you can leave out if you don't notice it's not there!)
8tsp of cornflour
8tsp of tomato puree
1.32 pints of vegetable stock
4 pinches of oregano
4 pinches of mixed herbs
4 potatoes
400g mushrooms

1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. Cut the stewing steak into bite sized chunks and toss in the cornflour tapping off any excess. Then brown off on all the sides keeping the heat high.
2. Once browned, set aside on a plate and add the finely sliced onions, crushed garlic, diced carrot and celery to the pan. Cover with a lid and cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Return the meat with any of the juices to the pan.
3. Add the tomato puree, stock, herbs and potatoes (cut into bite sized chunks). Turn the heat low and gently simmer for about 30 minutes. After this time, add the mushrooms to the casserole and simmer gently for a further 10 minutes.
4. I served mine with a Yorkshire Pudding but it could just be eaten on its own or with some steamed veg on the side.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Mmm pie...

There really is nothing quite like a home made pie. Me and my friend Jen were debating what to do with some ingredients that needed eating up when I found a brilliant recipe for a Chicken and Mushroom pie! Armed with kitchen utensils and an appetite to feed an army, we created the beauty below! We simply served it with some veg and some roasted parsnips...bish bash bosh!

2 tbsp olive oil
chicken breasts, skin and bone removed
150g/5½oz button
mushrooms, quartered
1 small
onion, chopped
garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp
plain flour, plus extra for dusting
300ml/½ pint
200ml/7fl oz chicken stock
freshly grated
nutmeg, to taste
freshly ground
white pepper
pinch salt
small handful fresh parsley, chopped
One of sheet of ready made puff pastry.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the chicken and fry until the chicken begins to turn white.
Add the mushrooms and continue to fry until the chicken is golden-brown.
Remove the chicken and mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Add the onion and garlic to the same pan and fry for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Remove from the heat and set aside with the chicken and mushrooms.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook for about three minutes, stirring constantly until it has formed a thick smooth paste (this is called a roux).

Mix the milk and stock together in a jug, then add the nutmeg, white pepper and salt, to taste. Pour the liquid slowly into the flour mixture, whisking all the time until smooth. Simmer over a gentle heat, stirring constantly, for about five minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
Stir in the chopped parsley and pour the sauce over the chicken and mushroom mixture. Mix well, then spoon into a pie dish and leave until completely cool.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is the thickness of a pound coin. Brush the edges of the pie dish with beaten egg, lay the pastry on top, press down the edges and trim. Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg and cut some leaf shapes out of the left-over pastry to decorate the top of the pie.
Make two or three slits in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape and then bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden-brown on top.