Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

"If I could wish a wish for you, it would be for peace and happiness
not only now, but for the whole year through!"
- Catherine Pulsifer, My Christmas Wish To You.

From my family to yours, may your Christmas sparkle with lots of love, laughter, joy and happiness. Stay safe over the holidays and enjoy making precious new memories with your families.
Merry Christmas. ♥♥♥

Thursday, December 21, 2017

{Recipe} Peppermint Brownie Bites

How are you going with your Christmas prep? As of yesterday I'm all ready to go and we are so looking forward to it. An update on the house reno's/change arounds etc.- DONE! Everyone is settled into their new designated space and loving it. My new sewing room is finished with the exception of a few things that are under the tree, and today is the first day in weeks I'm not in my daggy, grubby paint clothes :) It's been an exhausting month and we have worked day and night to finish everything before Christmas, so now we can just sit back and enjoy the festive season!
I have a yummy recipe for you today and I think we can all agree that everything is perfect in miniature. I made a batch of these for Cohen's class Christmas party and they were such a hit that I thought I would share them with you. Here's my Peppermint Brownie Bites:
I'm the only family member who's not a huge peppermint fan but I do love these brownie bites. There's just enough peppermint flavour in the buttercream to appeal to my taste buds and teamed with those delicious, gooey brownies its a perfect match.
They not only taste delicious but they look so pretty and they are a simple and yummy way to enjoy a traditional Christmas flavour.
Cooked in those cute little cupcake liners the recipe yields about 24 Brownie Bites, so they are great for family gatherings or for those times when you need to send a share plate to work or school.
You could get all creative and sprinkle them with crushed candy canes or peppermints but I like them just like this and I think they have the right amount of flavour. Plus I was seriously tired when I made this batch and that was as creative as I was going to get :)
My Brownie recipe is quite basic but you could add some chocolate chips or walnuts to make them special. Simple recipes are often the best because you can play around with them and make them your own, adding all the extra touches that you enjoy.
Keep this recipe in your files and flavour your buttercream to suit different occasions. They are also yummy with orange buttercream and they are divine with a raspberry buttercream as well which is perfect for Valentine's day :)
I prefer my Brownies fudgy so I cook these for around 12-14 minutes but everyone's oven is different so keep a close eye on them while they are cooking. You don't want to overcook them and you want those centres still slightly gooey and delicious. Give them a little longer if you prefer a more cake textured brownie.
If you would like to give my Peppermint Brownie Bites a try, you can download the recipe HERE or right click on the image below and save to your computer for later:
I hope you enjoy my Peppermint Brownie Bites. A plateful of these will look lovely on your Christmas table, satisfying both chocolate and peppermint lovers alike. Give them a try and let me know what you think :)
I'm looking forward to actually sewing later today but I don't want to mess up my new room, its all so clean and tidy :) I might just sit in it.....and admire it for just a little bit longer :)
Happy baking :)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

{Tutorial} Fabric Star Hangers

I'm still busy rearranging the house after Madeline's move, and unfortunately my sewing time is limited at the moment. Setting up my new sewing space has been fun but its far from finished :( Its feeling a lot more organised than my studio was, even though this space is smaller. I wonder how long it will stay all neat and tidy :) 
I have a quick and easy tutorial for you today. I like to place a small gift in the Christmas Cards I give to friends and neighbours and for the last two years I've made the Matchbox Needle Keeps. In an effort to be more creative this year, I made a batch of these Fabric Star Hangers and decided to write up a simple tutorial, so you can make some too:
These hangers were so much fun to make and they look so pretty in different fabric combinations. Because these are so quick and easy, you will have a batch prepared for friends and family in no time and they are the perfect way to share something handmade at Christmas.
All you need to do is grab a few supplies and your ready to create. So here's what you'll need:
  • pentagon template (click HERE to download)
  • scrap cardboard and double sided tape
  • assorted 6" fabric squares (2 fabric squares for each star)
  • packet of pearl beads or glass seed beads
  • ribbon or lace to make hangers
  • neutral thread for piecing
  • matching thread for securing points and adding beads
  • general sewing supplies
And here we go:

Step One: Print your pentagon template and cut around the solid line. Glue the template to a piece of scrap cardboard (or template plastic) to stabalise the template, and then trim away the excess cardboard. Place a couple of pieces of double sided tape on the back of the template which will stick to your fabric to prevent it slipping or moving while you are cutting.
Step Two: Position your template on your chosen fabric and cut around all sides. Cut two pentagons for each star hanger.
Step Three: With right sides together, sew around each of the five sides of the pentagon, 1/4" from the raw edge and leaving a 1 1/2" opening on one side for turning. 
Step Four: For a nice crisp point, clip each of the corners as close to the sewn line as possible.Turn your pentagon to the right side, through the opening and push out each corner. 
Step Five: Fold in the seam allowance of the opening and press the pentagon well. Sew a scant 1/8" around the sides of the pentagon, which will secure the opening.
Step Six: You need to find the centre point of each side. Fold each side, point to point and finger press to find the centre. Mark each centre point with a pin.
Step Seven: Fold each point in about 1", towards the centre and secure with a pin, removing the centre pins as you go. You may need to adjust the folds as you work your way around the pentagon, to obtain the star shaped centre.
Step Eight: Thread a needle with matching thread and stating at one outer point, sew a couple of stitches to secure the point and then add a pearl bead. Work around the star as shown in the photo. To hide your thread, insert your needle under one fold and travel your thread between the two layers of the fold, exiting at the first outer point. Secure, add a pearl and travel your thread down to the first inner point between the folds, as shown. Continue in this manner until all points are secured. 
Step Nine: Add a hanger of your choice. Cut a piece of ribbon or lace to 6", fold in half and secure to the back of your Star with a couple of stitches. Your could also use twine, raffia or a gold hook or ring.
And that's it! A cute and quick project that spreads a little Christmas cheer to its lucky recipient.
I hope you enjoy making your own Fabric Star Hangers. Make sure you keep a couple for yourself though, to add to your own Christmas tree. Handmade ornaments are treasures and our tree is full of them; each with their own little story. I wouldn't have it any other way ♥
Happy sewing :)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

{Free Crochet Pattern} Gingerbread Coasters

I mentioned a few posts back that I was playing around with my own crochet pattern. I have no intention of entering the wonderful world of crochet design, but I had an idea and I really wanted to see if I could make it work. Today I'm sharing it with you as a free pattern, so here's my crocheted Gingerbread Coasters:
These coasters are a fun stocking stuffer idea and they would look lovely in anyone's home over the Christmas season. They are quick and easy to make and I have written the pattern in the way I like to follow a pattern. It is my first crochet pattern so please be patient with me. I have used US terms in the step by step instructions but I have also included a shorthand UK and US version at the end on this post.
If you're running short of gift making time and you would like to purchase a set of Gingerbread Coasters, I've also listed one set of four coasters in my Handmade Etsy shop HERE.
OK, so on to the pattern:

You will need:

Patons Cotton 8ply yarn in pink, brown and white
Scraps of black yarn for embrodiery
3.75mm Crochet Hook
Embroidery needle

Stitch Abbreviations:

  • st(s)- stitch(es)
  • sp- space
  • ch- chain
  • hd- half double crochet
  • dc- double crochet
  • sl st- slip stitch

Lets Crochet:

Round 1: With your pink yarn, make a magic ring and ch 1, 10 sc in the ring, sl st to first sc. Tie off, pull ring tight and weave in ends. (10)
Round 2: Attach your brown yarn in any st, ch 3, 1 dc in same st, 2 dc in each st around, sl st to top of initial ch 3. (20) 

Round 3: Ch 3, 1 dc in same st, 1 dc, *2 dc in next st, 1 dc, repeat from * around, sl st to top of initial ch 3. (30)
Round 4:  Ch 3, 1 dc in same st, *1 dc in the next 2 sts, 2 dc in next st, repeat from * around, sl st to top of initial ch 3. (40)
Round 5: *ch 3 miss 1 st, sc in next st, repeat from * around, sl st to first ch. (20 spaces)
Round 6: Sl st into first ch space, ch 2, 2 hd in first ch space, 3 hd in each ch space around, sl st to top of the initial ch 2. Tie off yarn and weave in ends. (60)
Round 7: Attach your white yarn in any space between the hd sets, *ch 4, sl st in space between hd sets, repeat from * around, sl st to first ch. (20 spaces)
Round 8: Sl st to first ch sp, 1 sc, 3 dc, 1 sc in each chain sp around, sl st to first sc. Tie off yarn and weave in ends.
Finishing: To make the eyes, thread your embroidery needle with black yarn and satin stitch two eyes in round 3 about 4 dc's apart, using about 4-5 stitches for each eye. Weave in ends. Thread your embroidery needle with white yarn and satin stitch one small stitch in the top left of each eye, to add a highlight. Weave in ends.
To make the mouth, thread your embroidery needle with black yarn and ensuring the mouth is centred and is stitched on the bottom edge of round 3, backstitch 10 stitches around. Weave in ends.
Cut a length of ribbon (about 5-6") and thread between two spaces on round 5 and tie into a bow, trimming ends if necessary.
And that's it :) Make as many as you'd like and gift them as sets or make a few for the kids bedrooms- they'll protect your furniture from stains and they look so darn cute. ♥
I hope you have fun crocheting these coasters. Use #gingerbreadcoasters on Instagram so I can see what you make.
Here's the shorthand version of instructions in both US and UK terms:

US Terms- Shorthand

Round 1: (pink) Magic ring, ch 1, 10 sc (10)
Round 2: (brown) ch 3, 1 dc in same st, 2 dc in each st around (20)
Round 3: ch 3, 1 dc in same st, (1 dc, 2 dc in next stitch) around (30)
Round 4: ch 3, 1 dc in same st, (2 dc, 2 dc in next stitch) around (40)
Round 5: (ch 3, miss 1 st, 1 sc) around. (20 spaces)
Round 6: sl st to first ch sp, 2 ch, 2 hdc, (3 hdc in each ch sp) around. (60)
Round 7: (white) ch 4, sl st between hdc sets, all around. (20 spaces)
Round 8: sl st to first ch sp, (1 sc, 3 dc, 1 sc) in each ch sp around.

UK Terms- Shorthand

Round 1: (pink) Magic ring, ch 1, 10 dc (10)
Round 2: (brown) ch 3, 1 tr in same st, 2 tr in each st around (20)
Round 3: ch 3, 1 tr in same st, (1 tr, 2 tr in next stitch) around (30)
Round 4: ch 3, 1 tr in same st, (2 tr, 2 tr in next stitch) around (40)
Round 5: (ch 3, miss 1 st, 1 sc) around. (20 spaces)
Round 6: sl st to first ch sp, 2 ch, 2 htr, (3 htr in each ch sp) around. (60)
Round 7: (white) ch 4, sl st between htr sets, all around. (20 spaces)
Round 8: sl st to first ch sp, (1 dc, 3 tr, 1 dc) in each ch sp around.

Happy crocheting :)

Monday, December 4, 2017

White Christmas

I thought I'd kick start my Christmas blog posts with a simple and yummy version of the no bake slice White Christmas.
When I was a kid, Mum made one with copha and instant milk powder but I just do not like copha. It leaves an unpleasant after taste in my mouth, similar to the grease in fried food. This recipe uses yummy white chocolate blended with a little coconut oil, giving it a smooth and silky texture and an extra burst of that gorgeous coconut flavour.
My version is made with puffed rice, glace cherries, macadamia nuts, shredded coconut and Turkish Delight. I love the rose flavour of Turkish Delight and it shines brightly in this recipe but if you're not a fan then add some mixed dried fruits instead.
You can also use Rice Bubbles instead of the puffed rice if you want. I pick up most of my ingredients from the health food shop and its fun to play around with different flavours and textures.
This no bake slice is quick and easy to make and its a great recipe to get the kids helping in the kitchen at Christmas. Apart from melting the chocolate and coconut oil, its just a lot of cutting and stirring. There's no need to be fancy, just roughly chop everything up and keep it rustic. I think the hardest part for me is to not eat all the Turkish Delight before it hits the bowl :)
I much prefer this version to the one mum used to make. The flavours work so well together and you don't have to deal with that copha taste.
You can cut your slice into bite size pieces and serve them with coffee or you can wrap them up in cellophane bags and give them to friends and neighbours as gifts. I like to pop a cookie cutter into the bottom of my bags as an extra gift, and this year I found some pretty snowflake ones which were perfect.
If you would like to make your own White Christmas you can download and print the recipe HERE or right click on the image below and save to your computer for later:
I have a few other recipes to share with you in the coming weeks but for now I hope you enjoy this version of a classic recipe. It's nice to change things up a bit and enjoy some different flavours and ingredients.
Happy baking :)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

PDF Pattern Sale + Your Free December 2017 Calendar

My diary says today's task is to release my December mini quilt design but we all know life doesn't go according to plan. I don't have a new pattern for you today but I do have something else which I hope you think is just as much fun. I'm sure you can all appreciate that we've been so busy helping Maddi and Michael with their new home, that our own plans have taken a backseat.
They weren't expecting to buy a house until Jan/Feb next year but they stumbled across the perfect house, in the perfect area, for the perfect price quite unexpectedly and within weeks they were home owners...... and excited little home owners at that, as I'm sure you can imagine :)
I love when things like that happen. It was obviously meant to be and they are so over the moon about this wonderful opportunity. Its important for us to do all we can to help them and what a special milestone in their lives to share.
So there's been no sewing time for me :( That's OK though. It's good to step away sometimes and recharge the designer brain. At the moment we are enjoying all the excitement this new home has brought to our most favorite couple ♥
To celebrate their excitement and instead of a new pattern, I'm running a sale for you:
From today until the end of December use the code NEWHOME20 at checkout, in either of my PDF Pattern shops and receive 20% off your purchase. Its my way of saying thank you for all the wonderful support during the past year....well every year actually.  There may be patterns you've considered purchasing and haven't, so now's the time to save some money and treat yourself.
Head over to my Big Cartel shop HERE or for instant downloads visit my Etsy shop HERE and don't forget to enter the discount code at checkout to receive your 20% discount on everything.
Madeline's move means a lot of reshuffling for us. Cohen is taking her room, I'm moving my studio into his room (YAY! finally inside the house.....I'm currently in a room off the garage) and Les is moving into my studio where he will have the space for his model railway again. Ten years ago he had it set up but moved it out to give me space to sew and run Threadbare. I'm thrilled he'll be able to do what he loves again, after such a generous sacrifice.
There's a tonne of re-painting, cleaning, moving, furniture assembly and purging before we are all settled in our new designated areas, so that's what I'll be doing for the next "however many weeks it takes to finish" :)
Luckily I have a few Christmas blog posts already scheduled so you will hear from me over December but not as much as I had originally planned and I promise 2018 will have lots of new Monthly Mini quilts to inspire you.
Before I leave I do have your free December 2017 Calendar:
To download and print your calendar just visit HERE.
I hope December is a wonderful month for you and your family. It is the greatest time of the year and even with everything we need to do, I'm looking forward to what this next month brings :) And who knows, I may even find some time to work on the Christmas mini I did have planned- no promises but fingers crossed :)

Friday, November 24, 2017

You're A Wizard Harry

Do you remember I mentioned my love/hate relationship with a Christmas present I was working on for Maddi and her boyfriend Michael? Well today I'm going to share the finished blanket with you.
Ta-da! A Harry Potter C2C crocheted blanket :)
Maddi and Michael both grew up with Harry, Hermoine and Ron and have built a massive collection of everything related to the series.... everything except a crocheted blanket :)
When I saw this pattern on Pinterest I knew how to crochet C2C but I'd never attempted a pattern with graphs and colour changing. I watched a few YouTube videos, read some articles and joined a Facebook group that generously shared lots of invaluable tips and tricks.
I chose the Golden Snitch as my first square because it looked the easiest to crochet and thankfully it wasn't too difficult. I used plastic clothes pins as my bobbins and I found the yarns didn't tangle if I attached them to the bottom of the square while they were not in use.
With my first attempt a success, I was ready to make all the squares for this blanket but it didn't always go quite as smoothly.
The centre Crest was very time consuming and I had a lot of bobbins going at once. There are two versions of this square available and of course I wanted to do the more difficult one! It really challenged me and at times it sat idle in my basket waiting patiently to be worked on.
Crocheting with black yarn at night was difficult and I had to concentrate closely on the pattern because unraveling a mistake could become very time consuming. As the images unfolded and the Crest became visible, I found myself excited and thrilled with its progress :)
With new determination, I completed a lot of the smaller squares quite quickly. As each square came to life, I fell more and more in love with the blanket and I was constantly laying out the squares to see how the blanket was progressing. I did rework a couple of the squares because I found alternate patterns in the Facebook Group files that appealed to me more.
I used a range of 8ply yarn from Spotlight because it was easy for me to grab a ball or two as I needed, but the colour range was quite limited. To achieve the true Harry Potter colour scheme, I did have to blend in a few yarns from other ranges but they all worked well together.
It's hard to pick my favorite square but I do love Dobby. This is one of the alternate squares I found in the Group files and I think its a more accurate depiction of the character. This square presented me with a new challenge- there were no written instructions. To prevent mistakes I did count and write down each row before I started which worked quite well. The Hogwarts Castle Banner at the bottom of the blanket also had no written instructions, but I did the counting and Maddi helped by doing the writing so I didn't lose my place or direction in the graph.
The top and bottom banners are both optional extras that were drafted and shared in the files by members of the Facebook Group. They finish the blanket perfectly, but they take awhile to complete. I thought that with fewer colours they would crochet up quickly but the Harry one seemed to take me forever :)
Each square is finished with a simple black border and then sewn together. I added the same border to the outer edges to tie it all together.
If you have someone who would love their own Harry Potter blanket, then I suggest you start HERE with the original free pattern. On her right sidebar, you will also find the link to her Facebook Group (Two Hearts Crochet Family) and you need to join to have access to the alternate squares and bonus banners. It's a friendly and supportive group where lots of ideas, projects and encouragement is shared.
Maddi and Michael absolutely love their blanket so it makes all the up and downs of this project worthwhile. It will be used for years to come, most likely while they are snuggled up watching Harry Potter movies for the umpteenth time ;)
It may have been smarter for me to try a few easier C2C graphgans before attempting one as complex as this, but I did learn a lot along the way. Despite my love/hate relationship with it, I do love it and seeing the joy on Maddi and Michael's faces far outweighs any obstacles I encountered along the way. That's the whole reason we make the things we do, isn't it? :)
Happy Christmas gift making :)
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