Sunday, 29 September 2013

my filofax week: september round up

i'm pretty sure i blinked and this month has just gone.
highlights include: probably the last beach bbq of the year with lovely guys, working through the entire doll house series (and now mourning its loss), having j's mum come over from italy to stay for a few days, finishing my quilt, and an awesome day out to kempton antiques fair that i'll be posting about next week.

october, i'm ready for you.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

quilt update #6

once i'd gotten over my initial fear of the actual quilting part of my quilt, things really started to take shape.
two rainy weekends in succession meant that i managed to get it all done really quickly, and it's definitely one of the most satisfying feelings to see all those lines of stitching sitting pretty.
(don't get me wrong though, it was hard. really bloody hard. i had to roll it up like a sleeping bag to the point where i was sewing, and lack of table space, the weight of the quilt and the lack of weight my sewing machine has led to some very stroppy outbursts i can tell you!)

as i said in my last update, i made my binding from the reverse side of the duvet cover i used for the backing of the quilt. this turned out great, as i didn't have to do any joining for the binding at all- although i purposely cut four separate strips as it meant i could follow the pattern on the fabric properly.

after machine stitching one side of the binding, i then started hand sewing the other side down using a slip stitch. i was a bit nervous about this part taking forever, but with a good film on (harry potter obvs.) and the quilt draped over me, it was a really therapeutic process and made me really appreciate this whole project.

and guess what? i can now officially say: my first ever quilt is finished!!
i feel slightly deflated and a little lost now that it's done, but the satisfaction of seeing it draped on the sofa is awesome.

i'll be posting a few photos of it soon in all its glory, along with all the tips & tricks i've learnt along the way :)

Saturday, 21 September 2013

artichoke tart with polenta crust

i know the recipes are usually sweet around here (and let's be honest, mostly centred around nutella) but this tart is a game changer.

j's mum came to stay with us for a few days last week, and knowing about my love for artichokes decided to give this recipe a go.
it's naturally gluten free, vegetarian and oh my days, is one of the best tarts i have ever eaten. i generally despise making gluten free pastry as it can be pretty temperamental, but using polenta to make the pastry worked so well - i'm definitely going to be using it more often!

you can find the full recipe |here|, but j's mum made a few changes which i've posted below.


polenta crust:
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/4 cup dried polenta
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
fresh cracked black pepper to taste

1 cup natural yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, drained and chopped
bunch of green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese


• grease a 10-inch pie dish with butter or oil.
• begin by making the polenta crust. combine the stock and water in a saucepan over medium heat. add the salt and whisk in the polenta, slowly, and continue to whisk for another minute or so. reduce the heat slightly, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. stir in the cheese, the beaten egg and black pepper.
• have some water on hand and sprinkle as needed as you spread the polenta into the pie dish, using a spatula or your fingers to spread the crust evenly and up the sides of the dish.
• meanwhile, prepare the filling. in a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, eggs, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper. spread the mixture over the crust. distribute the artichoke hearts evenly throughout the filling. sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
• bake in the oven at 190°c for 45 to 50 minutes or until the polenta has browned and the filling has set. transfer to a wire rack and let stand at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. cut into wedges and serve warm.

Friday, 13 September 2013

diy: upcycle a hula hoop with washi tape

it's a slightly unusual diy today, but if there's a way to combine crafting with exercise, who am i to argue?!

after being inspired by the girls at work doing hula fitness classes, and having a (very wobbly) go on their hoops at lunch, i started to look around for a hula hoop for myself. you can find them around for quite a good price- i think argos was the cheapest.

luckily for me, the thrifty gods were on my side, and i managed to find a pretty grubby one in a charity shop for £1. the glittery tape was peeling off, and someone had tried to cover it with a (questionably) sticky pink fabric, but when have first appearances ever put me off!

first, i had to peel off all the existing tape and fabric, and then give it a serious scrub and wash. some of the glue refused to budge, but i just tried to make sure the surface of the hoop was pretty smooth.

then it's just a case of winding one of your washi tapes around the hoop, and then filling in the gaps with the second tape. be warned, this project uses a lot of tape! (these two are from tiger by the way).
i went for quite muted colours, but think of the possibilities! if i'd had any sort of glittery tape, i would have used the lot.

it can take a few tries to get the spacing right, and i still have a few patchy areas, but overall i'm so happy with how it's turned out. as i'm not planning on joining any classes, my hoop will pretty much stay indoors, but if you do attempt this and want to waterproof it, i think a coat of varnish would do the trick.

so, the big question is, are there any hula hoopers out there? if so then let me know - i'd love to hear some tips and tricks :)

Sunday, 8 September 2013

quilt update #5

guys, about a month ago something awesome happened.
i went home to visit mum for the weekend and came back with the backing for my quilt. all completely unintentional, without any stresses or umming; just like that.
and even better? the fabric is an old duvet cover that we've had for years and years that mum had been using as a dust protector (!) whilst painting. thankfully it remains unsplattered, and i cannot tell you how happy i am to be using fabric that has meaning to it- it was totally one of those moments where everything falls into place. yay!

i have to admit i had a bit of a freak out when i had finished basting all the layers together and realised the next step was to actually quilt the whole thing. i think i'd convinced myself that it could take forever to find the right backing, but before i knew it i had it right in front of me and ready to go.

i managed to avoid quilting a little while longer whilst i made up the binding from the reverse side of the duvet fabric, but in the end i just went for it. there were a few wobbles, but i seem to have found a comfortable rhythm, and i'm really starting to see the finished quilt now - so bloomin' excited :)

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

baking with tala: gingerbread cookies

a few weeks ago i received an email asking if i'd like to test out some tala goodies, and as i (quite embarrassingly) own most of their bakeware, i was v.excited to try out these gingerbread cookie cutters.
i think the design of tala products are just right; classic but not overly twee if that makes sense. as i expected, the cutters are really good quality, and the tin also comes with a piping bag for the decorating.

i decided to opt for the classic gingerbread recipe on the back of the tin, and set to work with j on sunday afternoon.
every memory i have of making a mess whilst baking as a child came back to me - there is no way around it - these babies create chaos. maybe we just need to work on our finesse, but there was flour everywhere!

the icing proved to be even more fun- i'll leave it to you to guess which one are mine and which are j's, but let's just say we definitely need more practice :)

Sunday, 1 September 2013

my filofax week: august round up

here's my first "my filofax week round up" in my new diary.
at the end of last month the strap on my dakota split in half, which is exactly what happened on my first one. i am always so impressed with the filofax customer service team- i sent it back to them and chose a replacement and they were so helpful. i went for the pocket saffiano in aqua which i had been crushing on since its release and it's definitely love!
it was also a really good chance to have a clear out and re-organise and now i feel like i'm making the most of my diary more than ever (there may be a few sneaky christmas planning pages in there, but shhh).

it feels like i've done a lot of travelling this month; two visits to the iow for my mum and brothers birthdays, and catching up with uni friends in london have left me feeling pretty happy- is there anything better than catching up with your nearest & dearest?!