Sunlit Sunday

25th January

We have a lot to be thankful for living in a First world country.  All my life, maybe because I am born to parents not from this country but who chose to adopt it as their own, I have often wondered but for the grace of god, I could have been born.... somewhere else less fortunate.

I have often quoted this to my children, but never harped on about it.  My eldest now 15 has had an amazing opportunity through school to travel to Kenya and to help in which ever way for the Nasio charity wish to use her services.  To find out more about this small local charity please follow the link   http://www.thenasiotrust.org/

What has impressed me so much about this whole journey is that there was never any guarantee that our daughter would be accepted.  She had to prepare for an interview at short notice, both her father and I were away for the weekend and she stayed with friends.  But she took the initiative and rang a family friend who has often helped out in an orphanage in India to ask advice and searching questions. 

Once accepted onto the programme along with 12 other young adults, with only minimal guidance they have had to raise over £30k in the last year for the charity that looks after orphaned children, many whom have HIV.  This they have done by themselves but gently guided, they have organised music festivals, open mic sessions, cake sales, bake offs, sponsored walks, gala dinners to name but a few.  Along this journey these young adults have grown in independence, gained confidence and have formed already bonding relationships. 

Yesterday they were on a training session where they had to learn basic first aid, become HIV aware and learn some fundamental words in Swahili.  Whilst in Kenya, they have been informed that they are to dig and build a fish stock pond and a one bedroom extension.  They will have a day in the life of a six year old, walk the six miles to school, attend school for the day, walk the six miles back and then go out to fetch the water, another not insignificant walk.  Collect firewood and then help the grandmother cook the evening meal.  All this a six year old does in a day.  You see how lucky are we to be born where we are...

To say that these young adults who will also attend a day in an African hospital, have to teach a lesson in either maths or English, attend Sunday church service and be expected to sing the weekly Swahili song will somehow be affected and changed in some way is perhaps an understatement.  Not one of these 13 children can change the world, but little by little we can all help to change something a small bit. 

I have watched them the past year,  with now only 19 days till they travel to Kenya, with pride, awe and wonderment and ponder how their lives will be changed shortly from a comfortable first world life and be immersed into a third world country, albeit for a relatively short period.  The future is in this next generation  and despite all the bad and sad depressing news around the world, we have good human beings too, who will overcome the bad one day...

My Sunlit Sunday, is all about hope.  Hope for the future and hope for us all in helping in whatever small way we can, be it the neighbour next door who sits alone or to something else, we must not give up on hope...


I am joining in with Karen and her Sunlit Sunday


♥  Hope your Sunday is full of sun and hope  ♥

Crochet and fruit tarts

24th January

Puffy spike stitch easily mastered and the blanket is growing

We are now half way through our crochet course and I continue to be the proud mother hen of all the ladies.  I am alone most evenings once the children have gone to bed (increasingly later as they work their way through teenage years) and so I sit and crochet or craft or occasionally read, less so these days as crocheting seems to have taken over, but that needs to be addressed I think.  Happily for me the last two weeks I have been joined for an extra evening of crochet company and I cannot tell you how much I enjoy that.

Here you can see the progress that the crochet ladies have been making, remember half of them had never held a crochet hook 14 days ago...


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  

 
This rainbow blanket is being made ready for university life

 
Having missed lesson 2, this lady had only been
crocheting for 8 days, she had never held a crochet hook before


Progressing onto the granny stripe


Cosy stripe, puffy spike stitch
and granny stripe, all mastered


What is crochet without cake?


These 3 blankets all crocheted by
the same lady are progressing well


 

This is how you will find me most week day nights...

I unexpectedly had company one night this week.  Having been taught by my Scandinavian mother that you should always offer guests something to eat, I raided my stores to see what I could rustle up with short notice and not wanting to go out and buy something.  I had some blueberries in the freezer, lemons in the fruit bowl and a pre rolled pastry pack in the fridge that actually needed using up... my mind began to whirl and decided on tarts.


Awaiting my unexpected crochet company


Made these lemon and blueberry tarts in a flash for my crochet company

The tarts were in fact so easy to make, tasty to eat, that I made more for this weeks crochet class, this time using the frozen raspberries I had from the garden.
 


Crochet and fruit tarts, a good combo

Fruit tarts   

You will need

shortcrust pastry either made or bought
soft cream cheese
lemon zest and juice - only for the blueberry tarts
vanilla essence - only for the raspberry tarts
3 eggs
1 tbsp. sugar
handful of berries, I used blueberries and raspberries
12 hole bun tin

1  Cream together the cheese, eggs, sugar and lemon zest and juice or vanilla essence. 
2  Add sugar only for the blueberry tarts.
3  Grease the bun tin.
4  Roll out pastry to about 5 mm height and use round pastry cutter.  Place pastry discs into the bun tin.
5  Add in fruit of choice, for the raspberry tarts, I needed only 3 raspberries per tart and for the blueberries I only needed 5 or 6.
6  Pour in the egg mixture, being careful to not over fill.
7  Place in preheated oven of 180 degrees Celsius for about 12-15 minutes until the filling is set and the pastry is golden in colour.

These are delicious hot and quick to warm through at a later date but are equally as tasty eaten cold.  They can also be frozen for up to 4 weeks.

They really are quick to make, especially if you use bought pastry, not that I do that often?!?!?
 
♥  Hope you are having a grand week end  
 

Five on Friday

23rd January  ♥

Thank goodness for Amy at Love made my home, not only for setting up this group Five on Friday, this is my second round within the group, previous Five on Friday can be found  HERE , but without her gentle reminder at the beginning of the week, I would have forgotten it was my group's turn today.  That could have been embarrassing.

What to post is always a bloggers dilemma and none more so when involved in a group posting and being linked to others.  Hopefully readers may discover new blogs and be so enamoured that they come back as regular visitors.  This is always a hope...

Today I turn my attention to HEARTS ♥  I love them and always have.  In actual fact I have had several heart postings over the 12 months of this blog and here I bring you new and old hearts, of course FIVE in total.  Come along for the ride and join me in crafting with hearts.

Quick planning for Five on Friday after Amy's reminder



Adding a touch of colour and love to my home
 Heart twig centre piece




You will need:

a heart template, I used a cookie cutter to draw round
thin yarn
medium thickness card
large eye needle
twigs vase







Draw round the heart template, remember to cut out an even number.

Place one heart on top of the other and with running stich sew along the middle, (see fig 1)  Keep the tail end long as you will bring this up to the top for using as a tie.




Fig 1:  Running stich along the middle of the heart
and then tie ends together as close to the card
as you can.  Can you see how to fold the heart
 from this photograph to create the 3D effect.



Tie a knot at the top of the heart, with the tail end and the end with the needle,  as close to the card as you can.  I made a double knot.  Again tie another knot further up to make a loop for hanging.  Photos should help, if I am not clear!

Fold each side of the heart over so that it creates a 3D heart effect. 

Make as many as you need  and hang on some twigs/branches that you have placed in a vase.


3D paper hearts



Adding colour in Winter
to the home after Christmas


I may keep this up on the mantle
piece for some time to come...
2   Crocheted heart bunting 

This is possibly my favourite heart posting on this blog and it is actually what started me being quite literally 'hooked' on crochet.  This is not a quick make if you make the bunting, but it is a great pick up and put down craft.  Alternatively you can just make one or two hearts as coasters, the ideas and uses are limitless, pop over and see...  Crocheted bunting post




3   Quick Valentine heart cards 

I love Valentines day but not the commercialism of it, we always make our cards and have a good dinner in the evening.  This year we will be with a whole gaggle of family and so we will spread the love... I have made three cards this year...

With a craft knife and some paper it is relatively quick to whip up a card for any occasion.  This was the most time consuming of the three cards, but made in less than half an hour.   Remember if making a card, to draw and cut on the back side, to leave the front crisp and clean looking.


Paper cutting is addictive:  Valentine card


I always have to get yarn in where I can and last year I crocheted hearts and glued them onto card for Valentines Day.  This year the idea is even quicker.  On the wrong side of the card I drew a quick heart out line and then within it drew the squiggle that you see.  At each end that touched the outside heart shape I pin pricked a small hole and this guided me whilst sewing backwards and forwards to create the card you see below.  Very quick, very easy and I believe very effective.


A hand sewn Valentine card, based on a heart squiggle

Not a lover of craft knives or of yarn?   There is still a simple and quick solution to creating your own card.  As with the yarn card, just draw a squiggle heart and job done!


Quickest card ever, same as the sewn card but just drawn!

4   Felt garland 

Last year for Valentines day I shared a quick tutorial on how to make a garland out of felt with no sewing apart form threading.  It was a quick make, my favourite sort, and in actual fact we kept it up in our porch for most of the year.  It was an lovely colourful addition to our house.  So easy, simple and effective... Felt garland post

The beginnings of a very simple felt garland

5   Crocheted heart pillows

Perfect for this time of year as a love token to a friend, a family member or be kind to yourself.  We have three of these in our house now, but looking back at this post, I think I am itching to make more.  These crochet up very fast and cause a giggle whilst crocheting, pop over to see what I mean... Crocheted heart pillows

These heart pillows can be made in a variety of sizes

So Five on Friday all about my passion for hearts, hoping you found something to start your creative juices flowing or failing that, have enjoyed my passion of hearts.  Thank you for popping over, that is what blogging is all about, sharing, communicating, inspiring and being inspired. 

I am joining in Five on Friday, taking five minutes from our day to enjoy five things.  Please go and visit the other people who are also blogging about Five on Friday this week.


Kirstie from http://journeynorthof49.blogspot.co.uk/

Patricia from http://aplacefor-everything.blogspot.co.uk/

Katharine from http://artefactsobjects.blogspot.co.uk/

Selma from  http://eclectichomelife.blogspot.co.uk/

Marion from http://my-two-girls.blogspot.co.uk/

and of course...

Amy from http://lovemademyhome.blogspot.co.uk/

 
♥  Have a wonderful Friday 
Do let me know what you think...

Crochet and chocolate cardamon cake

20th January 

Chocolate cake, easy to make and taasty
Two days before the second crochet course, I was privileged to be invited over to another bloggers house for tea and cake.  The very talented knitter guru, crochet goddess and writer extraordinaire, that is: http://thetwistedyarn.com/  Truly if you have not visited her blog, you are in for a treat.  Her words never fail to make me smile and the creations she produces are wonderful.  I am very pleased to be able to call her my new friend.  Through the internet we became acquainted and messaged each other every once in a while, then more frequently and then suddenly a meet up was suggested.  We try to see each other now,  as often as we can,  busy lives permitting. 



It was at the 'Twisted' house that I was given the most delicious chocolate cake.  I am addicted to chocolate, have been all my life, but am trying very hard over the last 6 months to limit what I eat and I am managing better than I thought I would.  However, I could not resist the cake...  Funnily enough, I bake a fair amount, love chocolate as I've said, but am totally useless at making chocolate cakes.  Twisted promised me this was a fool proof recipe and anyone could make it, yeah, right I thought...  but she's right.  I managed it!  I am totally stoked by this and so giddy with happiness, that I asked her permission to share her cake with my crochet ladies in week 2 and now I share it here with you, Twisted's permission given of course.  Go on over and see how amazing she is...

This chocolate cake rises well
Twisted Chocolate Cake 

You will need:

♥  200g good quality dark chocolate
♥  200g unsalted butter
♥  75ml milk
♥  dash of white wine vinegar or lemon juice
♥  85g plain flour
85g self raising flour
third tsp bicarbonate of soda
30g cocoa powder
200g light muscovado sugar or light soft brown sugar
180g caster sugar
dash of vanilla essence or almond essence
3 eggs, beaten
optional extra:
♥  3 tsp ground cardamom

1  Pre heat oven to 140 for a fan oven, 150 degrees for non fan oven.  
2  In a pan, gently melt the butter and chocolate with 125 ml water.
3  Meanwhile, add the vinegar or lemon juice to the milk and leave for 5 minutes to make butter milk.
4  Mix the flours, bicarbonate of soda, sugars, cocoa powder (ground cardamom, if using) and vanilla or almond essence
5  Add the eggs and butter milk and mix well.
6  Add the molten chocolatley mixture from the saucepan and mix well.
7  Poor into a deep 8 inch tin.
8  Bake in the oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes. do not check it before this, it may even take longer to bake.  Keep checking with a thin skewer, if it comes out clean, the cake is baked.

I added my own Scandinavian twist to this cake, that of adding the ground cardamom, it was not in Twisted's original cake, which I feel was brave of me, but it worked and added a slight warmth to the cake.  This is totally not necessary as the cake itself is fantastic. 

This is not an every day cake as you can see from the ingredients, but oh my, it is so yummy.  Next special occasion or when you want to spoil someone, this is your cake!
 

Chocolate and cardamom cake and crochet


♥  Enjoy this chocolatley cake. 
Have you any chocolate recipes that I can try? 

Crochet and lemon cake

19th January  

For me crocheting is both an individual occupation where you can loose yourself in the rhythm and before you know it several hours have passed, that is if the family will leave you alone. Or indeed crochet can be a social activity whereby people come together to create in an atmosphere with like minded people, chatter and laughter,  a must as is cake!

For the past couple of weeks I have been hosting a crochet course and as you can probably guess where there is more than one crocheter there really should be cake.  I have been asked to include each week the cakes that we scoff during our Thursday evening and must apologise that there is only one photo for this week, not thinking to blog about it before now! 

Week one, the ladies learnt how to chain and how to make treble crochet stitches along with that we all ate lemon and blueberry cake...

Lemon and blueberry sponge cake 

You will need:

♥  175g/6 oz butter
♥  1 to 2 tsp of finely grated lemon rind
♥  175g/6oz caster sugar
♥  3 small eggs
♥  175g/6 oz self raising flour
♥  1.5 tbsp lemon juice
♥  extra lemon juice for moistening the cake

for the Lemon curd, this needs to be made in advance, if you do not have time, buy a jar?!?!?

Lemon and blueberry cake and crochet
♥  225g/8 oz sugar
♥  3 medium lemons
♥  100g/4oz butter
♥  2 large eggs

for the Lemon icing
♥  225g/8 oz icing sugar
♥  lemon juice

Blueberries for filling and decoration


1  Cream together the butter, lemon rind and sugar until soft and light.  
2  Gradually beat in the eggs, lemon juice and  adding in a tablespoon of flour with each egg, to avoid the mixture curdling.
3  Sift the remaining flour and fold in gently and carefully into the mixture, try not to loose the air.  You should have a slow dropping consistently to the batter.
4  Divide mixture evenly into two 7 or 7.5 inch tins.
5  Bake in a moderately hot oven about 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit, for approximately 18 minutes or until firm to the touch.  Allow to cool in tins.
6  Once the cakes are baked I place a fine skewer into them and then drizzle in lots of lemon juice, more the better, I think.  This adds extra lemon flavour but also ensures the cakes are lovely and moist.
7  Once cool spread a generous amount of lemon curd over one half and sprinkle liberally with fresh blueberries.
8  Place top layer over the lemon curd and blueberries.
9  Sift icing sugar and mix with lemon juice to make a thick consistency icing sugar. 
10  Spread over the cake and decorate with blueberries on top.

To make the Lemon curd:

1  Grate the top zest of the lemons very finely, taking care not to use any white pith.
2  Squeeze out all the juice from the lemons.
3  Put lemon rind, juice, butter and sugar into a heat proof basin.  Stand this over a pan of boiling water and heat until the butter and sugar have melted.  Lower the heat, so the water is no longer boiling.
4  Whisk the eggs, stir into the lemon mixture and cook slowly until the curd coats the back of a wooden spoon.
5  Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal as jam. 


  Enjoy and  let me know if you make it 

Crochet lessons

17th January

I absolutely love Thursday evenings. Having ladies coming into my home to crochet is fast becoming addictive. I love sharing my passion and seeing others becoming 'hooked' it is so very exciting. This week was week 2 in the making a blanket course and I decided to dive head first into a stich not designed for beginners.  Was I being foolish as three of the six on the course had only started crocheting 8 days previously in our last lesson, but I thought in for a penny and all that...

There were grumblings and little moans of angst as we began and one was heard to say, no don't like this can I go back to last weeks stitch, but I beat them with my crochet hook and lo and behold by the end of the session everyone had cracked and admitted to being rather chuffed at having learnt a new stitch.  Me... a very proud mother hen!

Only having learnt how to crochet 8 days previous,
 the puffy spike stich has been mastered.


 

This person wanted to complete further cosy stripes before adding
in the new stitch, but made a sampler of the puffy spike stitch

 

This rainbow coloured blanket will only be in cosy stripes,
but each week this crocheter will be making either a sampler
of the new stitch or as this week,
making a cowl with the puffy spike stitch

 

A successful row of the puffy spike stitch was achieved

 

This person is an experienced knitter but is
hooked on the speed of crocheting

 

Towards the end of the night when some had already left,
there are often a hardly couple still wanting to crochet more!

 

We have virtual crocheters too.  This one from Canada and Linne
is making THREE blankets all at the same time, they are
 only ever so slightly smaller than the ones being made on the course,
I think Linne is winning hands down with motivation

 

Blanket number 3 by Linne, having started to add in the puffy spike stitch

 

Here is the cowl that is being made alongside the blanket using the stitch from week 2

 

It wouldn't be a crochet course run by me without cake.  This week it was chocolate and cardamom
 

To ensure that I complete my rows ready for the next lesson
and also needing to add in a few rows more of the
 next stitch to be learnt, I am crocheting every where I can! 
Already I am looking forward to week 3 and seeing how everyone is coming along.  I anticipate that each blanket will now start to take on some real individual characteristics as we have two stitches to play with and alternate with, I wonder what everyone is doing...

 

Sharpie pens, lights and a quick craft

January 13th 

A quick make for a Monday morning, tea light covers
Mondays are usually my stay at home day with a little work in the late afternoon.  Not so yesterday as I had to work most of the day.  And so you should I hear you cry, but Mondays mean #makeitsewcial days and yesterday was the first one of the year.  I really did not want to miss out and felt like a teenager deprived of her first big 'going out' session.  Never fear though, I managed to sneak in some very quick crafting time  BEFORE I set off to work!  For those of you oblivious to #makeitsewcial follow my previous post all about it HERE

With little more than half an hour what did I do on a dark dull Monday morning?  Well, my attention turned to the darkness of the morning and I realised I needed more light, that then set the old brain cells whirling and I decided to use some of the copious amounts of mismatched glasses cluttering up the cupboard and give them a Sharpie pen make over.  Have you heard of Sharpies, have you used them?  We love them in our house hold but I have had to squirrel mine away and hide them from the teenagers, I AM NOT SHARING MY SHARPIES.  I even made them their own little pouch last year! 

Last years crochet pouch, used daily


All I needed for this project was:  
Brightening up a dull morning,
decorated greaseproof paper tea light covers

old drinking glasses
greaseproof paper
Sharpie pens
blutack
tea lights


As I was crafting straight after breakfast and before work, I had little time to indulge in procrastination as to designs for my tea lights.  In the kitchen on the window sill at the moment I have a little piece of early spring in the guise of potted narcissi which are already flowering and cheering up my days.  Looking at the flowers I began to draw and colour in on the greaseproof paper.  I deliberately did not block colour and so allowed some of the greaseproof paper to show through my colouring, I thought and hoped this would be effective with the tea light shining through.



Let's not look in detail at the drawing as we all know
from previous posts I cannot draw or paint, but I still have a play

Those of  you silly enough to indulge me and who read the blog will know I love boats, so a tea light set would not have been complete without a boat too.  Sorry to any sailors out there, this is sooooo not an accurate drawing, but hey, I had very little time, who am I kidding, it would not have been any better had I had hours!


Basic basic drawing, but effective with
a light source from behind nonetheless


Then to complete the quartet, I very quickly doodled some hearts on one and hash tagged the other with #makeitsewcial and added in some crafting silhouettes of a paint brush, sewing machine and scissors.  Google images is great for line drawing and silhouette inspiration, goggle something like 'sewing machine silhouettes'  on images and you will see what I mean.


Note the paintbrush is raised past the rim
of the glass to add more interest


So in a rush to get out of the door and not be late, I blue tacked the drawn on greaseproof paper to the glasses, lit the tea lights for a quick photo, published one of them on IG (Instagram, should you wish to follow me, I can be found there as selmaeclectichomelife) so I could be a part of the fist Monday #makeitsewcial, blew out the candles and hopped into my car, making it just in time for work. 
Thank goodness there were no traffic hold ups on the way...

All four tea light covers completed in just over 30 minutes

Notice I left some of the flower
raised over the edge of the glass

I think this would be a great craft to do with children too, I can just picture children's colourful quirky pictures, they could use crayons if you are too precious with your Sharpie pens as I am!

  I hope Monday was good to you and you have a 'crafty' week