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Vegetable curry with naan and samosas

This is an amazing vegetable curry made with chick peas, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and spinach. Feta cheese was sprinkled on top once it was ready to serve which added another dimension to the flavour of the curry. It was also my first attempt at making a naan bread (which got a little over cooked!) and samosas. We have plenty left so it’s curry again today! 

   
 

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Naughty vs healthy snack

Having been given a pile of US cookery magazines, I spent a lovely afternoon browsing through them to get new baking and cooking ideas. Wow! What a lot of inspiration! 

As we have guests for the weekend, I thought I would bake some chocolate brownies, having never made any before. Woah……what a lot of sugar and chocolate! I suppose it is obvious, but I had never realised how much sugar and chocolate went into them! One of the great benefits of making things from scratch is that you know exactly what ingredients you include and the quantities, so you can make (healthy! Informed!) choices. The brownies are amazing, but seriously have to be rationed!  

 I also make some breakfast bars as these are a great energy boost and super easy to make. Although they do contain sugar in the condensed milk, the rest of the ingredients are super healthy: rolled oats, unsweetened coconut, sunflower seeds and raisins.  

 As with anything, everything in moderation! 

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‘Home sweet home’ garland

Here is a hanging garland I’ve made for our friends who have just moved into their first home together. I needed something that would post easily and add a little decoration to their unfurnished place. Just as luck would have it, I had a scrap of map fabric with ‘South America’ on it, which is perfect for this couple as they got engaged in Brazil! Its amazing how some things turn out! I’ll get it wrapped up and in the post ready to adorn their new home together.  

 

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Home made chilli oil

All this beautiful Alberta sunshine has been perfect for drying hot red chillies in preparation for making a homemade chilli oil. This would be a perfect gift for Christmas or any celebration, as the flavours will get more intense the longer it’s left. I can’t wait to try it out on a pizza or salad in a few months time!  

  I sun dried red chillies for 3 days when the temperature was above 25C. They are ready when you can snap them in half. I then tightly wrapped them in cling film until I was ready to make up the oil (preferably they should be completey vacuum packed to remove all traces of air.)

Today I have chopped/crushed half of the chillies into small pieces and added them with 8 whole chillies to a pan of warming olive oil. (Virgin oil is not recommended; I chose a light olive oil). In the meantime I sterilised the glass oil jug in boiling water.  

 After the oil had warmed for 5 minutes in the pan, with the chillies, I (carefully) poured it into the jug, added the cork and hey presto, chilli oil is completed! 

  I will store it in a dark cupboard for the meantime to let the chillies do their job.

Top tip! Add more oil than you think you’ll need as some of it remains in the pan etc. I underestimated how much I would need even though I measured it out before hand. 

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Bonny bears – ‘Summer Hope’ 

This is my first attempt at making a teddy bear and I’m pretty pleased with the outcome! I suddenly had the desire to make a teddy bear last week and after looking at many different designs online settled for this little guy. The pattern I used was from a link I found on Pinterest (Bear pattern). I traced the pattern (as I dont have a printer) and attempted to piece it all together without instructions. I used scraps of fabric I had left from previous projects so the bear has a patchwork quality to it. After a bit of trial and error it all came together pretty well. I embroidered the eyes and nose and added a ribbon around the neck.  

 

In total I think it took about 4 hours to make: 1 hour to cut the pattern pieces and pin together, 1 hour to sew the pieces, 1hour to stuff and ladder stitch the openings, then 1 hour to assembly it all – attaching the head and body was the trickiest! I now just need to add some buttons onto the top of the legs and arms to cover the tiny stitches where I joined them to the body. So there we have it, ‘Summer Hope’ bear! 

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Baby bunting follows wedding quilts…….

So it seems we are now into the season of new born babies! After a few years of attending the many weddings of wonderful friends, it is now the time their little bundles of joy are arriving. The main downside of living abroad is that we have had to decline wedding invitations this year and are not able to share the wedding days of our lovely friends. Plus we’ve not been able to meet some of their new little babies….:( yet…! 

But with little ones on the way, I have made some cute bunting to post back to the UK to a special couple expecting their first baby next month. I am using my personal couriers (friends who are visiting us this summer) to take my post back to the UK and send it from there, as I’ve had a few items go missing, not fun!
This bunting below is for a baby whose sex will be a surprise. I have used up scraps of fabric I already had and it seems to be I have made either girly or boyish flags (pink/blue)! Unfortunately I broke a needle sewing on one of the buttons and have only just got round to getting some new needles to finish it. But alas, it’s completed and can be packed off to the UK in my friend’s luggage in a few weeks!   
  

 

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Cheeky chocolate and blueberry cupcakes

What better way to get one of your five-a-day than by adding a handful of blueberries to a cupcake mix! (Ok, so that might be pushing it, but worth a try!). I’d have to eat the whole batch to get the benefits…….sounds a good plan!

I also added some dark orange-flavoured chocolate to a second batch of mix, along with some cocoa, for a truly indulgent chocolate cupcake. Mmmmm! Does the orange-flavoured chocolate count as one of the five-a-day too?! 😉  I can’t see these little beauties lasting long! 

 

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Milk paint cabinet project

I have finally got my cabinet into the house after it having sat in the garage for 3 weeks. I am really pleased with how it’s turned out and would definitely recommend using milk paints if you want to create something unique and distressed. This cabinet is a great size as it’s not too tall but still has plenty of storage. I do still need to finish adding a piece of light coloured wall paper to the back of the lower shelf, as this really brightens up the inside. However, apart from that it is all go with it now! It seems I have an extra shelf free and so maybe need to collect some more tea cups to add to it! What a shame! In total this project cost me $90 (£50) $50 for the cabinet, $20 to collect it, $20 for the paint (I already had sandpaper, wax and glue). I got ‘samples’ of wall paper for the back of each shelf, cheeky but cost effective! 

   

  

   

 

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Tuesday tutorial: bunting 

So I missed out last weeks tutorial (oops!) but am back again now! In fact I actually took the photos for this ready to load up last week but never got round to it….

Bunting – perfect for summer parties, home decor and bringing a smile to anyone’s face. Plus, pretty easy to make and satisfying at the end of it! It can be completed in a couple of hours, is a great stash-buster and you can personalise and embellish it in a wide variety of ways.  

I chose to use some of my British and London inspired fabrics for this bunting. I lined the back of each flag with either red or navy.  

 Materials: fabric triangles (I use 6″ x 7″ but any size will work), binding, scissors, sewing machine, plus any extra embellishments you want to add, e.g. Buttons, lace, appliqués etc.

Step 1: cut out as many triangles as you want, remembering you need 2 per ‘flag’. Depending on the fabric, check that the pattern is the right way up.

Step 2: add any embellishments you want (I didn’t add any below)

Step 3: pin the front and back of 2 triangles together, right sides together.

Step 4: sew down the length of the 2 sides of the triangle. Leave the top open for turning.

Step 5: turn each flag the right way out and press with an iron. Be careful not to poke all the way through the point of your flag!

Step 6: assemble your flags into the order you want them – I tend to do this on the floor. 

Step 7: place the binding on the floor and work out the middle point. Measure a gap between each flag and pin each flag between the binding. Remember to leave enough binding at the end for tying. (I find using a scrap of fabric or card helps to keep the distance between each flag the same).

Step 8. starting at one end, sew the folded binding together and carefully sew each flag into the binding. You could use a decorative stitch for this (I used a zigzag stitch). 

Step 9: hang up, admire and enjoy!   

   

  

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Quilt festival

I’ve had a great day today viewing many many quilts at a local quilt festival at Heritage Park in Calgary. Hung up both outside on frames and washing lines, and inside heritage homes, were hundreds of beautiful quilts on display that have provided me with such inspiration! I even tried out a long arm quilting machine, very cool, but super pricey at $15,000! I would really like to get a free-motion foot for my machine so I can try a few more quilting designs. Below are just a few of my favourite quilts. Happy quilting!