Friday Finds!

I like to knit, im not the best at it, I'm still working on my blanket as part of my Thirty before Thirty challenge and so I admire people who have kitting as a master skill and who can make clothing or toys. I had a good look on Artfire at the immense knitting talent but decided to show Rose the Love Dragon as my Friday Find as its creator, EddysPressies is a fellow Brit!

Friday, 29 April 2011 | 0 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Simnel Cake

One of my favourite Easter treats is a Simnel cake as it combines two of my favourite things, a "sort of" fruit cake and marzipan which I could eat by the slice!

The Simnel Cake signifies the end of Lent which is a period of fasting and repentance culminating in a feast of seasonal and symbolic foods. The Simnel Cake recipe is rich with fruits, spices and marzipan, all forbidden during the period of Lent.

To make this cake you will need:
  • 1 ¼ lbs/ 560g ready made marzipan
  • 1 lb/ 450g dried mixed fruits (currants, raisins, sultanas, glace cherries)
  • 3 oz/80g candied chopped peel
  • 8 oz/ 225g all purpose/plain flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 6 oz/ 175g butter
  • 6 oz /175g fine/caster sugar
And this is what you have to do:
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F/170°C/Gas 3,
  • Line a 7 inch cake tin with parchment or greaseproof paper.
  • Divide the marzipan into three and take one portion and roll it to a round the size of the cake tin.
  • In a large roomy baking bowl mix the mixed dried fruits, peel with the flour, salt and spices.
  • In another large bowl cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg to the butter mixture a little bit at a time, beating well after each addition - do not try to rush this process as the mixture could curdle. If it does curdle simply add a tbsp of the flour and mix again, this should bring the mixture back together.
  • Carefully fold in half the flour and half the fruit into the egg and butter mixture, once incorporated repeat with the remaining flour and fruit.
  • Put half of the cake mixture into the tin, smooth and cover with the round of almond paste. Put the remaining cake mixture into the tin and smooth the surface carefully. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour.
  • Lower the heat to 300°F/150°C/Gas 2 and bake for 3 hours until the cake is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
  • Roll another third of almond paste, again to the size of the tin. Make the remaining almond paste equally into 11 tiny balls.
  • Once the cake is completely cool, remove from the tin and brush the top of the cake with apricot jam and cover with the disc of almond paste. Place the 11 tiny balls of paste evenly around the edge. Brush the paste all over with a little apricot jam and place under a hot grill until lightly browned.
  • The cake can then be decorated as you wish with tiny Easter eggs or any other Easter theme.

Sunday, 24 April 2011 | 0 Comments

Thank You - a collection

Its so nice to have items selected to be included in collections on Artfire. Im a bit of a traditionalist and I think it's important to say thank you to people in an appropriate manner and that includes thank you cards so I was particularly pleased to be included in a collection of thank you stationery.

The roses decoupage card seen here was included in the collection and you can see all the other great items included by visiting the Thank You collection

Tuesday, 19 April 2011 | 0 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Suprise Tatin

I will admit it has been a few weeks since there has been a Sunday recipe blog, I am hoping to improve this now and moving forward. Not to long ago I had an email saying I should perhaps do a vegetarian recipe, I didn't really know where or what to start with as I am a meat eater and don't really 'do' veggie meals, however reading through a magazine yesterday I found this recipe and thought I would share it (please note I have never tried this):

You will need:
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 2tbsp olive oil plus extra for drizzling in the tin
  • 500g baby potatoes with the skins on
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 40g sugar
  • 10g butter
  • 3 oregano springs
  • 150g hard goats cheese, sliced
  • 1 puff pasty sheet rolled thinly
  • Salt and black pepper
And this is what you have to do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 130C/240F/Gase mark 1/2
  2. Halve the tomatoes and place them skin side down on a baking sheet, drizzle over some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, place in the oven dry for 45mins,
  3. Meanwhile cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 25minutes, drain and let cool
  4. Trim off a bit of the top and bottom of the potatoes then cut them into 2cm thick discs
  5. Saute the onion with the oil and some salt for ten minutes or until golden brown
  6. Once all of the vegetables are prepared brush a 22cm cake tin with oil and line the bottom with baking parchment,
  7. In a small pan cook the sugar and butter on a high heat stirring constantly to get a thick caramel
  8. Pour the caramel into the cake tin and spread evenly then scatter over the oregano leaves
  9. Lay the potato slices close together cut-side down on the bottom of the tin,
  10. Press the onion and tomatoes into the gaps and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  11. Spread the slices of goats cheese evenly over the potatoes
  12. Cut a puff pastry disc that is 3cm larger in diameter than the tin and lay the pastry lid over the filling snf tuck the edges down around the potatoes
  13. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6 and bake the tart for 25minutes then reduce the temperature to 180C/350F/Gas4 and continue to bake for 15minutes
  14. Remove from the oven and let it saettle before holding an inverted plate over the tin and turning the tart out onto the plate
  15. Serve warm

Sunday, 17 April 2011 | 0 Comments

Friday Finds!

I'm fascinated by dichroic glass, I hold my hands up and say I don't know a lot about it but I think it can look stunning especially as pendants in necklaces and so this is what I searched for as todays Friday Find on Artfire.

Regular followers of my blog, or of Butterfly-Crafts in general will know I have a love of all things purple and so when I saw this beautiful purple piece from Willow Walker I knew that I had to pick it as my Friday Find and if you live within the US you can purchase this piece and have it shipped free of charge!

Friday, 15 April 2011 | 1 Comment

The thirty first challenge item!

Back in September 2010, I set myself a challenge of thirty things I wanted to strive to complete before I hit the big 3-0 in August 2012. I took a long time to finalise my list and am trying to make a conscious effort to work towards it. Many of the things are areas I want to learn and develop for example learn to knit socks, sew a dress and change a car tyre; places I hope to visit (Rome) and catch up on some reading, film watching and exhibition visiting. The idea was I would blog along the way as part of this blog so you would get to know the person behind Butterfly-Crafts. I will admit to being a bit slack on the blogging front.

The was one challenge item I went to and fro with over including within my challenge and that was to get a new job. I decided not to include this within my challenge because I didnt want to tempt fate. And if im honest, I'd been trying to find a new job for 2.5years after returning to work from my first DVT, so what difference was it going to make putting it on a list? Was that going to make it happen?

Well, actually, by not putting it on the list, it did happen! and only two days in I cant even begin to tell you the difference it has made to how I feel. I won't go in to too much detail but I cant say I particularly enjoyed my previous job, it grew mundane and of no challenge and it got to the point I felt ill just walking through the office door every day for about two years. So you ask why I was there for 3 years? Necessity - the right job wasnt ready for me yet. Until now!

I have moved on to a wonderful new place where I will continue to learn all about fundraising and development within a cultural and arts background with the emphasis being on contemporary dance. For someone who went to the ballet barre at three it is so wonderful to be in an environment I can relate to and the buzz and atmosphere I hope will be catching!

Starting a new job is always tiring, I need to get into a new sleep pattern (actually going to bed before 1am would be a good start) as it is tiring from the brain overload, and that means I cant spend as much time as I would like running Butterfly-Crafts and maintaining blogs etc. But I hope soon I will settle into a new routine and gain improved time management skills and get back to normal. So please bear with me whilst my brain wakes up again from being dormant during the day and until I can get on to a new schedule!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011 | 0 Comments

Happy Mother's Day

There will be no Sunday recipe today because today is a very special day, it's Mothers Day here in the UK and I wanted to wish every mother a wonderful day no matter what they are doing.

My mum is super special to me, she is always there for me no matter what happens in my life be it celebrations, upset or health - of which there has been so much to deal with. She is finding today a bit hard as my brother is in a land far far away fighting the baddies which means I need to step up even more which I dont mind in the slightest. She has had a mothers day card (handmade of course), cards from my brother & wife and from her grandaughters and some flowers and skincare things. I am also making a rare venture into the kitchen to cook her lunch then spend time in the garden helping her sow seeds and pot plants on.

My mum is such a wonderful person because without her support (and support from my Dad too) I dont think I would have managed to run Butterfly-Crafts because she helps me at all the craft fairs and is a great people person, she comes to classes with me so we can both learn new techniques and she is the knitter and crocheter (is that a word?) and makes the wonderful beaded fabric necklaces that are in my store.

Without my mum I wouldn't be the person I am today so I wanted to say - I love you mum!

Sunday, 3 April 2011 | 0 Comments

An April Fool's Challenge Update

Rather than have the usual Friday find today, I wanted to give an update on my thirty before thirty challenge as it is April 1st and I have exactly sixteen months to go. I wish I could say this update was a joke in the spirit of April Fools Day but no, I really am that far behind!

The original blog post explains a little more about the challenge but here is the list with updates:

1. Own a sewing machine, - Possibility this may be my birthday present next year or a moving in present for when i have a house, in the meantime I have two at my parents to use.

2. Learn to knit socks - Not yet, it's too easy to buy them from my friends Linda at CalicoCat.

3. Visit Buckingham Palace - hoping this will happen in the Summer open season this year

4. Swim in a lake or stand under a waterfall - Not sure when or where this will happen in the UK.

5. Own a home (the BIG challenge) - working HARD towards increasing my deposit on a daily basis and the wheels have been set in motion

6. Be debt free except from a mortgage if Num 5 happens - working hard towards this every day

7. Visit Dickens House - likely to be a summer thing as I often visit places like this with my mum

8. Go to a soap making workshop - I did this in January and still need to blog about it, but have taken it a stage further and am doing an at home study course to get a certificate as a soap maker

9. Learn to hang wall paper - I've observed how to do it, but wont be able to do it until either I have a house, or we decorate at my parents house.

10. Spend a night on the Norfolk Broads - We're going to Norfolk later this month, although we wont be sleeping on the Broads, we will be exploring.

11. Learn to make pastry - still need to do this

12. Learn the succession of kings and queens from William the Conqueror in 1066 - I have a book and a rhyme

13. Make and wear my own dress - I have the pattern and want to buy fabric but have fabric to make some skirts first in practice

14. Read 5 books from my bookshelf - I read Knit the Season and need to blog about it, the next one to read will be The Memory Keeper's Daughter

15. Have a make up lesson - hoping to plan this soon

16. Do something every day to make me smile - I have been doing this and lasted three months writing it in a journal, but got bored of the journal even though I am still smiling

17. Learn to change a car tyre - hmmm - why did I include this?

18. Be able to jog a mile with out stopping - Unfortunately I have had my gym membership suspended since January due to my DVT so this is actually very hard

19. Go to Rome or Sorrento - potentially happening in October

20. Sleep for 6.5+ hours sleep a night consistently - If anything this is what I am progressing with the most as I have a new job to start on Monday and am consciously aware of the time i need to get up in the mornings so am trying to get my 6.5hrs sleep

21. Visit Giant's Causeway - Im hoping this will happen next year for a short driving holiday

22. Have a dinner party - This is the plan for my 30th birthday

23. Have Butterfly-Crafts mentioned in a newspaper or magazine - Well as I am organising a craft fair in May (14th) I have had an article published in our local village news but am still aiming for the local newspaper

24. Sleep under the stars - I havent slept under them but I have been out late at night in a Texan field looking at them and I saw the Milky Way and Saturn.

25. Live as much of a handmade/homemade/economical life as possible - Well so far this year i have given only handmade cards and am making a hard effort to give handmade presents where possible and I am always trying to be economical

26. Begin to have the stamina, strength & body shape from pre-leg issues - this was going well as I was enjoying the gym and feeling much fitter, that was until the ticking bomb in my leg went off and I got DVT again

27. Watch: Goodfellas, Casablanca, Dr Zhivago, Gone With the Wind, The Philadephia Story, A Street Car Named Desire, Ferri Beulers Day Off, Schindler's List, The Godfather and Citizen Cane - I think later this year I am going to do a LoveFilm membership to get access to some of these films.

28. Go to a comedy club - After a friend cancelling on me at Christmas, I have not done this yet

29. Finish my knitted patchwork blanket - I finished another square! But have had to put the blanket aside to work on a mini blanket to sit in the park with at lunchtimes.

30. Visit 15 exhibitions at museums and galleries - I've been to one 'Handmade Tales' and written a blog on it and been to 3 more that I need to write blogs about if i can remember details about them, if not then I need to see some more!

I must make more of an effort really or Im not going to get all of this done and I need to blog more.

Friday, 1 April 2011 | 0 Comments