Sunday, 30 March 2014

Feet of Flames!

Sometimes at work they make me wear safety shoes. This makes me sad. Safety shoes are not pretty.

I know they're black, but that doesn't mean they go with everything. At all. So I decided they needed titivating. I thought about glittering them. I thought about bedazzling. I considered lace, florals, and even vintage trims, but after a thorough root around my fabric stash I decided that I needed . . .
Feet of Flames!!!
First of all I unclipped the heel straps and put them to one side. Then I laid the fabric across each shoe and cut a chunk out that covered the big ugly front. As these are a clog I decided that this would be enough flame for me, but of course if you are recovering a shoe with sides and a back, or a wedge heel, you will need to cut a big enough piece to cover the whole area.

The next step is to slather the area to be covered with a generous amount of PVA glue. Don't worry if the glue gets 'outside the lines', it dries clear and won't show at all.

When your shoe is slathered, place your fabric on top and smooth it down. This is a bit tricky as you're essentially trying to make a flat piece of fabric cover a curved surface, but the glue makes the fabric wet and it will stretch a little. You may have a few creases around the toe but don't worry, I have a plan. When you're happy with the position, push the fabric into the crease around the sole using your thumbnail, or a pencil or something ~ you're trying to make a good clear crease to use as a guide for trimming your excess fabric off.

Using a pair of old scissors (you really don't want to get your best sewing scissors all gluey!) trim away the excess fabric around the outer edges of the shoe, smoothing down as you go. Do it as neatly as you can but don't worry if your trimming is a little raggedy, remember, I have a plan! Leave about an inch or so of overlap around the part where your foot goes in, and cut a series of slits in the overlapping part. This will make it wrap over more easily. Put a good layer of glue on each piece and tuck it under.

Those pesky little flaps will want to pop open, especially if your shoes are fabric-lined like mine. So I pegged mine until the glue dried.

Remember my cunning plan to hide the raggedy edges? All you need to do is glue a piece of trim or ribbon around the edge to finish it off nicely. I went for a piece of gold cord. As my cord was quite stiff, and PVA is pretty slow to dry, I used my hot glue gun to attach it, but if you're adding something more supple like ribbon you can probably get away with PVA for this bit too. Hot glue guns are a bit mozzarella-y, but you can trim or pick the stray strands off when the glue has dried.

Tada! Feet of Flames!!!

They still don't go with anything, but they definitely look awesome, and that's what matters ;)

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Wash Time Bonus

I was up bright and early this morning. The sky was a lovely springy blue as I walked the dog in our local park, the trees sprinkled liberally with blossoms, and a fresh breeze blowing tufty clouds across the sky. Perfect washing weather! So when I got home I loaded up the machine and got out my box of washing powder, only to find I had barely enough for one wash.

Sad face.

But as I tipped out the last few grains into the drawer I noticed that some powder was trickling out from between the box and the cardboard liner, and the miser thrifty genius in me decided I ought to investigate. So I worked the cardboard liner free, it was only held by one blob of glue on each short side, and removed it.


I ended up with an extra scoopful of powder, enough to do a light load! I could kick myself when I think of all the times I've thrown the box away because it looked empty, when all along there has been an extra scoopful hiding in there behind the liner.

Well, it sounds like the washing machine is finished. Time to peg out the washing!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Melting Moments

One of my favourite recipe books from my childhood is a little book published by a flour company called Be-Ro. Although I have an up-to-date version, I still tend to go back to this battered old copy, taped together and covered in margarine and cocoa stains. Maybe partly because I looked just like the girl on the cover when I started using it!

One of my favourite recipes in the book is for some scrummy little biscuits called Melting Moments. I seem to remember it was my Dad rather than my Mum who used to make these ~ Dad made pastry and biscuits, Mum did cakes and dinners ~ but Lordy it was a long time ago, and I struggle to remember where I've parked the car in the morning these days, so who knows! I do remember that we never used coconut, always rolled oats. This was the 70's, and money was always tight, but I still make them that way now and I personally prefer the powdery softness of the oats. Here is the recipe from my vintage copy of the Be-Ro recipe book:

Regular readers won't be surprised to hear that I don't follow the recipe exactly, and this is a great example of how I tweak even the simplest recipes to suit my own tastes and techniques. For example, I always use granulated sugar for these biscuits, in fact I rarely use caster sugar in any recipes. In my opinion a single batch of this will only make about 10 biscuits, I usually make a double batch and just roll up walnut-sized balls rather than trying to divide the mixture as advised. As I mentioned earlier, I don't often use coconut, I sometimes don't even bother with the oats, and I almost never bother with the pieces of cherry ~ I find the little sweet burst of chewiness detracts from the meltingly crumbly texture. Bake these until barely golden, allow to cool a few minutes, then enjoy ~ I'm betting they'll soon become a family favourite of yours too!

Be-Ro still publish their recipe book today, although I'm no longer the cover girl ;-) You can get your own copy here.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Thrifted Treasure

If you hadn't already realised, I ADORE vintage fabrics! I'm always keeping my eye out at carboot sales and charity shops for vintage curtains and bedding, either to use around the house, or if they're a bit tatty, to cut up and make into something new. But that's not the only way I add to my collection. Today I was given a big bagful of fabric that a friend's mum found in her grandmother's house when she was clearing it out. Check out these treasures!

There are two of these gorgeous alpine panels. They both have the odd hole, but with a little imaginative darning I think they will make wonderful wall hangings.

These curtains are just awesome. The lemon and grey is heavily faded and stained in places, but will make some pretty owls or cushion covers.
These two pairs of curtains seem to be in great shape. I'm hoping they will fit the windows in my new home.

This prancing pony print is fabulous, and I know just the person who will love them almost as much as I do ~ if I can bear to part with them that is! Check out the vintage curtain hooks still in the header tape!

And last but certainly not least, a knitted bride and her bridesmaids! I wonder if these were made as a wedding gift or keepsake?

How lucky am I?! I think I owe my friend's mum a big box of chocolates as a Thank You!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Wet Dog or Freshly Baked Biscuits?

I love Monsters Inc, it's one of my favourite Pixar movies. The animation is great, it's witty, and funny, and packed with fabulous details that really make it a pleasure to watch. One of my favourite scenes is when Mike and Sully are at their lockers after a hard day on the Scare Floor, trying to choose an odorant to wear ~ Low Tide? Wet Dog?

I know I'm a bit weird, but am I really the only person who LOVES the smell of a wet dog? This is what my dog looks like . . .

But this is what she smells like . . .

When I vacuum (even after the bag's been changed) the whole house is filled with a doggy smell which, though I find it comforting and homely (weeeeirdoooo!) can be off-putting to guests.
So today's Top Tip ~ Put a few drops of essential oil on a cottonwool ball and pop it in the hoover bag (or in the cylinder if you have a bagless vacuum cleaner) and your house will smell like this . . .

or this . . .

or this . . .
Right, I'm going to go and sniff my snuggly dog some more.
Mmmmm . . . biscuits . . .

Monday, 3 March 2014

Roast Root Soup

As a working single parent, I make a lot of freezer dinners ~ Stews, Shepherd's Pie, Spag Bol, Maccy Cheese, anything that takes one lot of preparation and yields a few meals is always a popular choice. When I get in from work I don't want to be faffing around with lots of prep, I just want something I can pop in the oven or microwave. But at the weekends I like to make something that takes a little more time and effort. Well, this weekend I managed to do both! A big Toad in the Hole that was both fluffy and crunchy, served with roast veg and onion gravy.


I made an enormous pan of roast veg to go with the Toad, way too much for two people, and thank goodness, because boy does it make great soup! Thick, hearty, and positively bursting with flavour - and made from leftovers too!

Roast Root Soup

3 parsnips
3 carrots
2 small sweet potatoes
2 potatoes
1 large onion
1 / 2 cloves garlic
Olive oil
approx. 1litre Vegetable stock

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4

Peel and chop all the veg into roughly equal chunks, about 1-2 inches should do it. Put them all into a large roasting pan and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt and pepper and roast for about an hour , stirring halfway through, until all the veg are softly cooked through.
Put all the veg in a blender with approx. 1 litre / 2 pints of vegetable stock and blend until the soup is as smooth as you like it.

This is very much a bung-in-what-you-have kind of recipe ~ I had about 1/4 pint of onion gravy leftover from tea so I bunged that in too. I like my soup very thick and very smooth, but if you prefer more chunks then don't blend it for too long, if you prefer it runnier add a little more stock.

This should make about 4 or 5 servings, plenty for now and for the freezer too. Bonus!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Pink Grapefruit on a sunny day

Well, so much for my promise to myself to blog at least once a week! In my defence I've had major broadband issues, and I'm nowhere near clever enough to figure out how to blog with my phone. It's up and running now (hooray!) and even though it's a gorgeous sunny day outside (for the first time in what feels like months!) I'm indoors spending way too much time catching up on my pointless browsing (pet shaming, elk on trampolines etc) and making Pink Grapefruit Marmalade. I've wanted to try it for ages, and now I have a big pan of gorgeous pink and orange simmering away on the hob, filling the house with the most amazing fragrance. The colours go so well together I was inspired to compile this zesty Etsy treasury:

Please click on the link above to take a closer look at these lovely items.

Right, I'm off to see how my marmalade is coming along. And maybe venture outside to see what that big round yellow thing is that's appeared in the sky. Maybe it's a giant grapefruit . . . ?