Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Halloween Skeleton Notebook

Firstly I'd like to give credit to the FaceBook page   Confessions Of Crafty Witches for the idea. This is fabulous fun and as easy as they make it out to be ( which can be rare in on-line projects!)

You'll need the following

A notebook
Flat plastic Halloween motifs  - or other things of course.
Cheap and nasty kitchen roll
Modge Podge
Black and brown  acrylic paint
Gold highlighting wax

 So I had a pink hard cover note book that had been lying around for a while. I'd painted it with white gesso for a project I had in mind a while ago but never quite got around to... It isn't necessary though. Had I not have done this it would have made no difference to the finished book.

The pink skeleton came from a pack of 10 for 99p from Wilkinsons. I trimmed off the small hanging loop at the top and stuck it the middle.

 Next I covered it everything with a layer of Modge Podge and stuck a piece of kitchen roll/towel  over it. Mine was a real cheap budget one and as you can see the skeleton still shows through! This is perfect as you want it to cling tightly to the shape so you can still see all the details. I used a wooden coffee stirrer to push it down firmly. The thin kitchen paper will wrinkle and tear as you stick it down - doesn't matter at all. In fact you want it to look rough and uneven. f you are using thicker paper then try and use just one ply.

Once the whole book was covered I dried it off quickly using my craft heat gun. Otherwise leave it to dry overnight.

Once it was try it was time to paint it. The original instructions use black but as I wanted more of an old leather look I went for burnt umber darkened with some black. Work the paint in. The paper is quite absorbent so you'll use more than you think. Once it's dry go back and paint all the bits you missed ( or that might just be me!). Again I used the heat gun to speed this bit up.

Once completely dry it's time to bring the whole thing into 3D life.  I used Treasure Gold wax as I ad some already and just rubbed it into the raised parts of the skeleton motif and around the edges to give the effect of worn gilding.

And the finished item. The photograph doesn't do it justice at all. I will be adding a few further embellishments to it I think but the basic technique is ridiculously easy and I'm now eyeing up a few other things I can  do this with.

 I'll also not be so quick to discard those nasty flat plastic objects that fall out of cheap christmas crackers either!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Dandelion and Rosemary Cookies

 First credit  to the originator of this recipe:  Gather . This is a blog I am now following!

I'm always on the lookout for new and original recipes and as the garden still has plenty of dandelions I thought I'd give this a try.

First to raid the garden... Plenty of dandelions and the rosemary is in need of a good trim so I have the two key ingredients already.

 The recipe is simple enough

2  cups brown or white rice flour   ( I used a mix of brown and white rice flour from Dove Farm)
1 cup butter   ( I converted this to 8oz being an unrepentant imperial measure user)
1/2 cup honey  ( I used an organic heather honey)
1/2 cup  sugar ( I used a soft brown sugar)
1/4 cup  grated  cheese ( I used a very mature cheddar as I wanted to be able to taste it)
1/4 cup dandelion petals & greens, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely-chopped rosemary
black pepper to taste
sea salt to sprinkle on top

Firstly beat the sugar, honey and butter together until light and fluffy. As I was using my food processor blades to do this rather than the mixer I also put in the unchopped rosemary and dandelion leaves at this point. This worked beautifully. Chopping rosemary finely is not one of my favourite tasks.

At this point I transfeered the mix to another bowl and stirred in the dandelion petals and half the flour.

Once mixed I added the cheese and black pepper  ( if not using a food processor you'd add the dandelion leaves and rosemary at this point as well.

I then added the rest of the flour to make a soft dough.

 I then split the dough into 2 and rolled each ball into a cylinder of about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and wrapped them in cling film. They then spent the night in the fridge ( for my convenience there - an hour would be enough).

Once firm slice the dough into rounds, sprinkle with a little sea salt  and bake for 20 mins at 160°C until golden. My fan oven is a little fierce so I cut the temperature to 140°C and they were about done after 15 minutes. They need to be golden brown. Leave them to cool on the baking sheet or they will disintegrate. Once they are cool they are quite robust.

The instructions said to slice into 1" thick rounds and place at least 2" apart on the baking tray. Assuming they would not rise but would spread I followed the instructions. In practice they didn't spread at all and they'd have been fine much closer together. I'd have also preferred them a little less thick so I'll cut more like 1/2" discs next time.

This is a recipe I'll definitely be doing again ( nice to have some gluten free ones in the repertoire!). It's an interesting and unusual mix of flavours.

I found them a little sweet for my taste so although I was mean with the amount of sugar I used I'll probably leave it out completely next time and just let the honey do the sweetening.

I'm going to be taking them round to a get together at a friend's house this evening. I hope they will like them!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Iron Age Cookery

Being tasked with producing nettle oatcakes for a  Dumnonika booking at the weekend I went in search of the necessary. Anything not available in SW England in the correct period  (50BCE to 50CE) can't be used:

Nettles - yes plenty in the garden
Oatmeal  -  no but have some organic rolled oats
Butter - yes 
Eggs - yes
Salt  - yes
Rubber gloves (!) - yes

Nettles are like spinach; you need to pick at least twice as many as you think you'll need and then a few more for luck. I ended up using two carrier bags full of fresh young nettle tops. It's at times like these I'm glad I have a wild garden.

No quern available so I put the rolled oats through the food processor to make a coarse oatmeal

The oatcakes are easy enough.

Pick over and wash the nettle tops discarding any thicker pieces of stem that may have sneaked in and then cook like spinach in just the water clinging to the leaves and a pat of butter.

When wilted and tender drain thoroughly and roughly chop.

This is the amount of cooked chopped spinach produced by the two carrier bag fulls.

Add to bowl and beat in an egg and add some salt. Stir in enough of the oatmeal to make a soft dough and then leave to stand in a cool place for an hour or so. It firms up significantly and is then easy to shape.

Roll into small cakes and fry  in butter until golden on both sides. I used my iron bakestone for this.

I just hope I've made enough.....

Sunday, 15 February 2015

First steps in soap making - here be Dragons Blood....

I know - another post so  soon! You can tell I'm feeling better!

I've been looking for some dragons blood soap but it's really hard to find and I've drawn a blank. So - how hard can it be to make some?

I've always been put off by the thought of having to mess around with lye but having discovered there is such a thing as "melt and pour" soap where the first stage is done for you I really had no excuse. Especially when I found an organic base that was SLS ( Sodium Laural Sulphate) free.

Next stage was to watch several youtube videos on soap making and pick up some tips - including "superfatting" and the use of surgical spirit to pop the bubbles and also how to use resins in soap making. No excuses left now so I ordered the base and set to work.

First was to  prepare the dragons blood resin. This was crushed to a fine powder and infused overnight in coconut oil using a water bath in the mini slow cooker. I'm liking coconut oil now more and more for this sort of thing. I used about a tablespoon of solid coconut oil to a generous teaspoon of dragons blood resin.

As there will be no unused lye in the base, the coconut oil was intended to "superfat" the soap, making it nice and softening for the skin. Avoiding the harshness of SLS is an additional bonus.

The next day whilst still liquid I strained it through butter muslin to get rid of the resin powder. Once set it looked like this - colour of dried blood I guess!

Next was to melt the soap base over a water bath. It can be done in a microwave but I wanted to keep it as cool as possible. I also melted the dragons blood mixture with it at the same time and stirred well.

I'd chosen a clear glycerine base as I like the idea of being able to add flower petals and jewel like colours to other batches .

 Once it was all melted it was simply a case of pouring the mixture into the silicone ice cube moulds. I did pre-grease them just in case but I'm not sure that was strictly necessary. After a spritz over the top with some surgical spirit it was just a case of leaving them to set.

Now wrapped in cling film they're ready to be inflicted on my unsuspecting guinea pigs! 

I'm actually really pleased the way these turned out. After handling the soap to wrap it my fingers are soft and smooth from the coconut oil. Although they are not completely translucent this could be acheived by using a different oil base for the resin extraction.

I think I've got the bug - might do some rose ones next!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Bramble "smudge" Sticks

Having picked up this idea from Sarah Lawless and having no shortage of the raw material in the garden I thought I'd have a go.

It may be only early February but there are plenty of semi dry brambles in the hedge so we won't miss a few. Heavy gloves and some secateurs needed. Still managed to impale myself on a few thorns though.

 I left them to dry for a few days before de-thorning.  It was suggested I use a florists tool.  OK on roses but Somerset brambles are made of tougher stuff! I tried the secateurs but the blades were too thick.

What worked best in the end was my craft knife and a self healing mat.

I tried cutting the brambles to length before de-thorning but found it easier in the end to work with the longer stems. It wasn't a particularly pleasant process though and I was glad to be done with it

Once done I cut then into approximately 6" lengths and left them to soak over night to soften.

Next day I dried them on some absorbent paper and then it was a matter of tying them into bundles with some black wool  and wrapping one end to make a sort of handle.

I sealed the points were the wool crossed over itself with some melted beeswax to stop them coming undone as the stick smoulders..

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...