Friday, 27 April 2012

Fancy Fonts- Wedding Acceptance Card

This summer we are going to our first 'grown up' wedding (of friends, not family members). I was very excited to receive the invitation in the post and of course to make a wedding acceptance card. I've been wanted to try out drawing fancy lettering and this was the perfect opportunity.

First I cut out hearts from wrapping paper (the same paper used for my owl), stuck them on and went around them with silver glitter glue:

I then drew lines for the lettering and wrote my message out on Word to copy. The font I used here is Academy Engraved LET:

I then filled in the pencil letters with silver gel pen and left it to dry, here's the finished product:

I also had a go on this thank you card at the same font, although it's not quite lined up as I'd like. The ribbon is from a Sephora gift set I got for Christmas one year and has been waiting in my ribbons and beads box for the right moment:

Any more pretty font suggestions to work from would be most welcome!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Coffee Cupcakes

Recipe: Coffee Cupcakes

Coffee cake is a favourite treat of mine, I love the flavour and smell. This recipe only uses one egg and 135g of butter (which tend to be the expensive ingredients in baking) to make 12 cupcakes, so does fairly well on the thrifty scale. It's adapted from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery, which is one of my favourite books and is full of cupcake recipes for every occasion.

A box of these would make a lovely gift for a coffee (or cake) lover.

60g unsalted butter (remove from the fridge half an hour before cooking)
60g demerara sugar
60g light brown soft sugar
1 egg
60g self-raising flour, sifted
60g plain flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coffee (espresso/instant whatever takes your fancy)
60ml semi-skimmed milk

For the icing:
75g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon semi-skimmed milk
1 teaspoon coffee (espresso/instant)
150g icing sugar, sifted


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180℃/160℃ fan/350℉/Gas Mark 5 and line a 12 hole tin with cases (I used standard size in this recipe, you'd need to make more mixture if you wanted to use muffin size)

2. Cream the butter and both sugars using an electric mixer, until the mixture is pale and smooth

3. Add the egg and mix again for a few minutes

4. Combine the flours in a separate bowl

5. Mix the coffee, milk and vanilla extract in a jug and stir to combine

6. Add one third of the flour mix to the creamed butter/sugars/egg mix and beat well

7. Add one third of the coffee/milk/vanilla mix and beat well

8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until all of the milk and flour mixes have been added

9. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two third full

10. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until golden and slightly risen and an inserted skewer comes out clean

11. Whilst the cupcakes cool on a wire rack, prepare the icing by mixing the butter, milk, coffee and sifted icing sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy

12. Ice each cupcake and decorate with grated chocolate or a chocolate covered coffee bean if you wish

Enjoy your lovely indulgent treat!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Make Your Own Owl Card

I'm loving the cute crafty owl trend and if you too want to hop on the bandwagon, then I've made a cut out template to get you started:

Use off-cuts of used wrapping paper to make your owl as shiny, spotty, striped or subtle as you like!

My owl is made with some Paperchase wrapping paper from my Birthday last year and purple sugar paper to match. I think he's rather cute!

Friday, 20 April 2012

April's Seasonal Recipe: Spinach and Ricotta Pie

This month's seasonal ingredient has the added bonus of also being a superfood (even though I think 'superfood' may just be a made up term for marketing purposes, but hey, it makes me feel good!)

Spinach and Ricotta Pie

Ready-rolled shortcrust pastry (or home made if you're more virtuous than me!)
Spinach- either a large bag of fresh (250g) or 8-10 balls of frozen
1 tub of ricotta (usually 90g)
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
Salt, pepper and nutmeg to season

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180℃/360℉/Gas Mark 4.

2. Grease the base and sides of an oven-proof dish

3. Roll out your pastry- I need to roll out a sheet like this a little thinner in order to cover the base of my dish and get a lid out of it- line the pie dish with the pastry

4. Chop the onion into small chunks and the garlic finely, fry gently until translucent, set aside

5. Then boil the spinach for 3-4 minutes and drain thoroughly. Return the spinach to the pan and mix with the onions, garlic and ricotta, then season to taste.

6. Fill your pie dish with the tasty filling

7. Cover with the pastry lid on and fold the sides over and press down with a fork

8. Brush the lid with beaten egg (and use the leftover egg to make scrambled eggs!)

9. Cook in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes

We had our pie with roasted baby new potatoes (also seasonal) and roasted carrots- delicious!

Other seasonal food for April includes: cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, crab, cucumber, kale, new potatoes, pepper, purple sprouting broccoli, salmon, sorrel, spinach, spring greens and watercress. There's a handy guide on the BBC Good Food website for more ideas.

Happy seasonal cooking!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Fresh Egg Test

Whilst reading a pile of old magazines my Mum has given me, I came across this tip for checking whether your eggs are still fresh, which I thought I'd share. I hate throwing food away as it seems like such a waste, but eggs are something nobody really wants to chance, so I think this is a great tip.

'Place the egg in a bowl of water. If it: sinks and lies on its side- it's fresh; sinks and stands large-end up- it's on the turn so use within a couple of days; floats- bin it, it's gone off' (Woman & Home October 2011)

Looks like mine are still lovely and fresh:

To keep them fresh, we keep a few eggs out and ready for use in this lovely chicken basket:

And the rest in the fridge to stay fresh until they're ready to use.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Coffee Grounds in the Garden

The Lodge was renovated before we moved in and to give us a patch of garden, our landlord kindly planted these little fir trees:

 As you can see, some of them are feeling a bit sorry for themselves and they're all not quite tall enough to give us any privacy in the garden. So I'm trying to grow these little beauties into a garden hedge without spending any money on fancy fertiliser etc.

My first port of call is coffee grounds, which apparently contain nitrogen, as well as smaller quantities of magnesium, calcium, potassium and other trace minerals. See this article from The Gardening Channel for some of their uses.

I have been saving mine up this week, but I think when I'm next in a town with a Starbucks, I may need to pop in for some of their giveaway grounds, as this little pot probably won't be enough to spurt the growth of my little fir trees!

I have measured some trees as part of this highly scientific experiment (!) to test the benefit of coffee grounds, so watch this space for a tree update.

What do you use to help your garden grow?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Make Your Own Cake Board

This week it was my lovely friend Sarah's Birthday and I made a cake, which of course meant I needed something to transport and serve it on. Cue the need for a cake board, but not one of those foil ones (like this) that you buy from the supermarket, oh no, a thrifty home-made kind of one that's even better as it has 'lift out' sides to remove it from the tub. Perfect for a cake that needs to travel 37 miles to Bath in rush hour traffic.

How to Make Your Own Cereal Box Cake Board

The dimensions of my cereal box were 19 x 25cm (front) and my cake tin has a diameter of 19cm- perfect fit. You may want to use stronger cardboard if making a bigger/heavier cake, but this was fine for lifting it out, lighting the candles and cutting the cake.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Under Sink Organisation: Part II

 Remember my under sink storage solution from a couple of weeks ago? Well, I finally got round to making some labels for the tubs, using the sticker paper I got from Poundland. Unfortunately our printer was running out of ink, so they've come out a bit pink along the bottom edges, but I think that actually adds a bit of character, if tub labels can have character (?)

If you now have a burning desire to make labels for your storage tubs, you can find a printable below, with my categories on and some spare ones for all of your labelling needs:

Happy labelling!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Thrifty Tip: Making Moisturiser Last Longer

Today's Thrifty Tip is quite simple- when you can't squeeze out any more moisturiser from the tube, grab the scissors and chop off the end:

It even makes a neat lid to stop it drying up:

I managed an extra 8 days out of mine... thrifty result!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Lemon Drizzle Cake

On Sunday the sunny spring weather was back and seemed just right for a lemon drizzle cake for my Dad's Birthday.

I used this very highly rated recipe from BBC Good Food (by Tana Ramsay no less!) and the result was a moist, light lemon drizzle cake. I made the drizzle a little less sweet, halving the amount of sugar and the result was just right- sweet but not sickly.

Note to self: lemon drizzle cake is not thrifty (4 eggs!) but it is delicious for a special occasion such as this- Happy Birthday Dad!