Cake, Découpage and Quilting …

I’ve not posted for a while for various reasons but mainly because I started a fantastic new job at the beginning of September and more importantly, my Dad was taken seriously ill a few weeks ago and whilst it’s been a huge roller coaster of emotions and worry, there are some hopeful signs. Needless to say, I’ve not really been feeling particularly creative.

Over the past week though, I have had a go at my very first quilt and whilst some of the stitching is somewhat random, I am quite pleased with it as a first attempt:

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Whilst trying to take a decent photo of it, someone decided to ‘help':

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I’d really like to make a large quilt for our bed but think I need to practice on some more smaller projects first.

Baking has not featured much here recently apart from the cakes made for my sons’ birthdays – they are just over 3 weeks apart, with mine thrown in the middle for good measure! My younger son loves cheesecake and he chose a raspberry ripple cheesecake as his birthday cake:

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My older son’s cakes are coming in 2 batches, the first were salted caramel cupcakes, he chose these because he was out on the evening of his birthday and is away this weekend, we will have the last 4 when he comes home later today. The 2nd/proper cake will be made next week when we are all home to enjoy it:

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I’m finally posting about our découpage fireplace. I did this way back at the end of the summer holidays, it took me over 5 hours and it was one of those things where I really wasn’t sure whether it was going to turn out ok or not. Originally, the tiles were a green/grey muddy colour and looked horrible, having lived with them for 13+ years, I decided to do something about them. At first, I was going to spray paint the whole fireplace purple, fortunately, I decided against this and went for découpage instead. I know it won’t be to everyone’s taste but I love it. The fireplace looks so much better now, we never have a fire in there – it’s in our dining room and anyone sitting next to it at the table would severely overheat !! The fireplace now looks like a proper focal point of the room:

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New, for Fishfest 2014 …

It’s that time of year again, this Saturday is our very local and very fantastic Fishfest Arts Market, from 11am. In order to show something new I’ve used photos of some of my favourite places in Bristol. This is a small trial run to see what people think – I’ve used my own photos which I’ve then adapted:

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I’ll certainly use some of these myself, I hope others like them too!

August Foodie Catch Up …

August has been a busy month food wise. Spending two wonderful weeks on holiday in France gave us ample opportunity to savour some delicious meals.
First of all however I’m going to focus on my parents-in-law’s Golden wedding anniversary which was last week. We went out for a lovely meal (starter and main course) and then returned home for their special cake:

The cake itself was a straightforward Victoria Sponge Cake but the icing was Champagne Buttercream. This was icing unlike any I have ever made before. It was made with egg yolks, a hot sugar syrup and soft butter. To this combination, Champagne was added. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realise that adding the alcohol would cause the icing to curdle completely! Before panicking and throwing it all away, I turned to google. It quickly became apparent that this is very common and that with a further 5 minutes or so of beating, the icing should return to its proper consistency. Good old google, it really saved the day!
The icing itself was much lighter than traditional buttercream and the Champagne really gave it a boost.
Alongside the sponge cake, I made some cupcakes which I filled with raspberry jam before topping with some of the Champagne icing.
The cakes all went down very well – the leftovers still taste good several days later!

And so to France. It wouldn’t have been a proper French holiday without a galette or two:

We tried both sweet and savoury and thoroughly enjoyed them all!

Tonight, I made us some galettes of our own, I stuck to the very reliable combination of ham and cheese and served them with a potato salad and some steamed broccoli:

My husband’s favourite dessert whilst we were away was ‘Ile Flottant’ or ‘Floating island’. He was amazed at how tasty it was and so I decided to have a go myself. I added a few fresh raspberries to the custard and we had 2 islands each. When poaching the meringue islands, they grew an incredible amount, as soon as I removed them they seemed to deflate, much to my frustration. My husband assured me that they tasted just as good as those he had eaten in France, praise indeed!

Other delicious French food included a shellfish and seafood creation with puff pastry:

an ‘Atlantic Plate’ of salmon, scallops and shrimps:

and desserts that my children chose one evening, one had a Normandy yogurt with caramelised apples and a salted caramel sauce, the other had a panna cotta topped with popcorn:

All in all it’s been a fab foodie month, holiday food always tastes great! What are your favourite holiday foodie treats?

Francophile Fabric …

I decided against the baking route today – there will be more of that this weekend – and instead focussed on sewing. I found some lovely ‘francophile’ fabric yesterday and have used a small amount to make a ‘wall hanging desk tidy’ – as you do !! I’ll nip in to work tomorrow to make sure it works but it should end up with various pens, rulers, pencils, glue sticks, stickers, post-it notes etc inside:

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The backing material is lovely linen and I really like the quirky style of the French inspired fabric.

Some of the stitching wouldn’t pass close inspection and the pockets are not all completely level however, I am really pleased with the end result and my desk should be a lot tidier for it.

Madelaines …

We’ve just returned from a wonderful holiday in France, to make that holiday feeling last just a little bit longer I made some madelaines – any excuse !
The recipe was from Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ and included the addition of a raspberry into each madelaine plus some home made lemon curd once the cakes had been removed from the oven:

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It took several attempts to get the quantity of batter right – I kept putting way too much in and the cakes overflowed their moulds – I got it just about right in the end though.

These tasted lovely and light, still warm from the oven.
I wonder what I can cook tomorrow to extend that holiday feeling !

Wonderful Weekend …

We didn’t have much planned for the weekend but it’s turned out to have been a pretty good one. Yesterday, my husband and my older son went to see the Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, this left my younger son and myself with a day to ourselves.
We began by having breakfast at the Thali Restaurant, Easton, Bristol. We both had their coconut and banana pancakes with honey:

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We spent the rest of the day shopping and film watching and finished it off with our second visit of the day to the Thali restaurant, this time to fill up our tiffin tin with delicious curry:

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Today, myself and my husband went to visit Jekka’s herb farm herb farm, just north of Bristol. There was an open day today – it’s not normally open to the public – and we bought some delicious looking herbs as well as a yummy recipe book:

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The herbs are, from the top: Silver Sage, Black Peppermint, Zi Su Egoma (I’m not sure either but it’ll be fun finding out!) and Apple Mint.

I’m really looking forward to trying out some new recipes from this book:

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Lunch today was a very simple bread & cheese affair followed by a completely spur of the moment raspberry and strawberry roulade:

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We are loving the weather at the moment and eat outside at every opportunity – loving the summer!

What a Treat …

Doughnuts are something that I’ve never made before, thinking that they would be too difficult and probably just as good as their shop bought counterparts. How wrong was I ?!!
Not only were these incredibly easy to make, they tasted delicious – my son licked his plate clean!!

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We were very restrained and didn’t eat them all in one go – one with a vanilla latte later today is something I’m looking forward to!