Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Malt Loaf and a Cup of Tea

Ahhhhh... one of my most favourite treats today!  And another recipe I can't believe I have never posted on here!  Malt loaf.  Moist, delicious, fruit loaf - perfect in the afternoon, sliced and buttered with a cup of tea.  Thanks Mum for your recipe!

Once again, I did a double batch!  It really was the best thing when I received two new loaf tins for my birthday :-D 

I'll get going on this malt loaf recipe now, and there are a bunch of savoury recipes coming soon to the blog.  I can't wait to share all of the dinners we have been creating using seasonal vegetables from our CSA Winter Box!  Watch this space for some non-baking blog posts soon!!

Ingredients (for just the one loaf!):

8oz self-raising flour
1/2 cup demerara sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
4oz dried fruit (I used raisins and sultanas)
1 egg
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp black treacle


1.  Soak fruit with a cup of black tea overnight in a jug/bowl.  Enjoy a cup of tea seeing as the kettle is boiling!

2.  Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and grease and line loaf tin (or tins if you are doing a double batch like me!)

3.  Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl.

4.  Put the batter into the prepared loaf tin and place in centre of oven.

5.  Bake for 1 hour, until a cake tester/skewer comes out clean.

6.  Leave to cool, then slice and enjoy... With another cup of tea of course!!

That's all for today folks! 
Hopefully I'll be back next week with some vegetable inspired recipes for once :-)

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Estonian Skirt for Baby Amelia!

It has been a while since I blogged, but WAY longer since I blogged a sewing project!  The last bit of sewing I did was the easy DIY burp cloths that was before our baby daughter was even born and now Amelia has arrived (and that we now know she is a girl!) I got to make her very first skirt for her! 
In the Summer this year we visited Estonia - a great trip, visiting the old town of Tallinn, exploring the countryside, and having big family reunions with my husband's extended Estonian family!
Full of cultural heritage, Estonia is divided into regions each with their own national dress - rahvariided!  Always beautiful fabrics, intricate embroidery and really wonderful handmade outfits, I knew I wanted to come home with some fabric to one day do something with for our soon-to-arrive little one!  We chose this beautiful red fabric, with blue and green stripes running down it which was from Mustjala - an area where one of Jonathan's grandmother's is from.
And so, this past Sunday - with the Saarte Hommik service at church - celebrating the islands of Estonia with music and national dress from those islands I knew it was the perfect opportunity to try and create something for our little girl to wear.  Saturday afternoon was the time for my first try at naptime sewing :-)  Luckily my husband was home to, to help me out, and also to have some great Daddy-daughter time!!
I used this online tutorial as a base to help me out with making this (it was my first baby skirt after all!) so thank you to Delia Creates for this, and do check out her great blog with SO many wonderful tutorials to try out. 
Using a blue stretchy knit fabric that I already had in my stash (and was SO lucky it was the perfect colour) I started out making the waistband.

So for my 5 1/2 week little girl, I measured her waist, and also went with Delia's 0-3 month size guide and cut out a rectangle for 17.5 x 12" with the stretchiest part of the fabric running across the long length (I chose to do a fold-down waist with a single seam).
Folding from the left, right sides together I sewed along the right hand edge and then turned it back around, creating a tube that could be folded down like so, for her itty bitty waist! 
Please do follow Delia's great tutorial for more info!  I took pictures as I went, but I'm definitely no professional sewer, and she explains it much better!
Then take your chosen fabric for the body of the skirt and measure what you will need.  For this I did two pieces of 18 x 8" material.  I chose to do a two seam version, only because the length of my fabric was 22" across so it worked out better to cut two pieces rather than one longer piece, and also added 1 inch to the length to see if perhaps she will get a few more wears out of it at other Estonian events in her near future!
Both pieces cut out, wrong sides together and edges pinned - I sewed them both together along the edges with a straight stitch.
Now for the part that went a little wrong, and I don't know if it was my fault, or the material's - or both!  It was time to do the two rows of stitching across the top of the skirt (right sides out now).  The instructions said to stitch with high tension, and long stitch length along the top, but I made the error of using zig zag stitch here resulting in a long time unpicking tiny stitches and then going again with straight stitch!  OOPS!
Two parallel lines of straight stitching, it was time to try and pull the stitches from the ends of the thread to gather it together.  Seems easy right?!  But I had a really hard time gathering the fabric together, perhaps because it is such heavy fabric? ... After a break for a feed I got back to it and kept pulling until it had gathered enough to fit the waistband! ... Can't wait to try this again on another material and see if it was me and my errors, or perhaps just the fabric that was hard to work with for the gathering! 

Taking the waistband and lining up where I wanted the seams to lie, I folded the waistband down over the top edge of the skirt and pinned it together before sewing - this time correctly WITH a zig zag stitch (to add a little stretch) around the edge.

And there it was - pretty much complete!  I put the skirt on my sweet little baby girl to test the waistband size and it was perfect! ... Phew!

A quick hem later and it was DONE!  After some struggles figuring out how to make some parts of this work, I am more than happy with how it turned out, and she looked so wonderful in it on Sunday!

I can't wait to make more of these little skirts for her, now I've done it once I figure I will be able to sew these much more quickly in the future, and can't wait to try it out with other fabrics and designs :-)