Invitations

99 Days to go!!!!

With less than 100 days to go I find mself sitting in front of a pile of envelopes and invitations wondering whether or not it is time to commit and send them out. Looking online there are plenty of people who have firm opinions on the etiquette of when to send invitations, what information should be included and who should be invited and how. Its all well and goo saying that the invitations should be sent out with six weeks to go but as my fiance and I never quite manage to get around to sending out Save The Dates we probably should act sooner than that. Added to that we are asking that children do not come to the wedding so to give our guests time to organise childcare, accomodation, travel etc. we are going to send out the invitations now.

So as far as I am concerned the hardest part of this is deciding on the guest list but we have already done that and I might talk about that in another post. Once that is done you need to think about what information you want to include in your invitations and how any additional details can be disseminated. There are so many options for that these days with various social media platforms providing means for contacting people instantly even when you don’t see them very often. We decided to do a more traditional invitation because a significant portion of our guest list is made up of family who are less au fait with social media and the internet in general. However, having not finalised a lot of the details of the celebration we printed the core essentials on the physical invitation and put together a website that we could continue to update as we organised the finer details.

The website is a separate issue but for the invitations we decided to use VistaPrint. There are excellent options for sourcing personalised invitations online but we wanted something super simple and economical. There are some amazing options on Etsy of fabulous artists work and with an unlimited budget I would have found these much more decorative options diifficult to resist. We ended up going for a ready made design on VistaPrint that perfectly matches our laid back natural theme and for around £50 we were able to get all our invitations printed and envelopes to go with them. My one tip if this is the way you want to go is to spring for the higher quality card stock. It costs very little extra but gives the invites a much more special feel.

 Tip number 2 is go and invest a small amount in a callugraphy pen and coordinating ink. Spend an hour practicing writing some of the names of your guests and then put your new found skills to work in producing some simple, elegant invitaions with an easy to do personalised touch.

That’s the way we decided to go and we are delighted with the results. I would have loved to make something more elaborate using a variety of papercraft techniques but this way I was able to get them all done in the space of two evenings. One to design them on VistaPrints online design software and one to write them.

Back to work finishing them off Lxx

100 days to a Wedding!!!

100 days from today I will be making vows in front of friends and family, promising to love my best friend for the rest of my life. I am excited about the wedding but also incredibly stressed out when I think about how much still needs to be done. We have been engaged for almost two years and set the date last year but despite this forewarning we are fast approaching with nothing other than the venue and the dress set in stone. So I had an idea……..I am going to revive this blog that never really got off the ground and I plan to share my journey from here to the (hopefully) mst fun day of my life so far.  By setting myself the task of posting daily updates, I will keep myself accountable and have a record of the fun and exciting journey that I suddenly find myself further along than I had realised.

So that is the challenge to myself. What should you expect to find here going forward? I will include the story of what we have done so far inclluding the propsal and dress shopping as well as all the decisions still to make. We want to have a fun, relaxed wedding full of hand made personalised touches so that we can enjoy our day with our guests and have a day to look back on with nothing but happy memories. I have three months off work this summer and I am going to get stuck in to the wedding organisation and handicrafts the day after I finish. This is one of the major advantages of teaching as a career.

I hope that you find this interesting and maybe even useful. If you have come here looking for a tutorial on how to organise a wedding you might want to check back in 100 days. I do not know what I am doing but this will be an honest account of what works for me and what proves to be a mistake. If you have any suggestions or questions please feel free to comment below

Lxx

Sunken Apple Cake

It is that time of year where warm comforting treats are needed to snuggle up with on the sofa after a long day at work and a journey home in the twilight. Luckily it is also the time of year where a lot of fantastic ingredients that have been ripening over the summer are finally in plentiful supply. I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s blog a few weeks ago and couldn’t wait to try it out. I finally got around to it last night and I am smitten with this recipe. I altered the ingredients slightly based on what I had in the cupboard but in general remained faithful to the inspiration.

Ingredients

4 tiny apples – peeled, cored and halved
2 tbsp granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon
125 g butter
80 g granulated sugar
2 tbsp honey
100 g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
2 eggs – separated

The only alterations I made were to account for the fact that I was short an egg to follow the recipe as described. I used a little less flour so the batter din’t become too stiff and added the milk before folding in the whipped egg whites to loosen the mixture a bit. I also left out the glaze which means that the honey flavour is very subtle but this was because Mr Elbi wanted to add custard to his! I also poured the lemon juice and sugar mixture from the apples over the cake before I put it in the oven and this gave a nice moist sticky texture to the top.

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Before and after baking

This was exactly what we were after last night to eat while watching Great British Bake Off Final having got cold and wet on the way home and suffering the first colds of the season. Soft, warming but light with fruit and an airy batter. I can’t wait to make this again perhaps with pears or plums.

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I did keep a perfect piece to photograph and upload here. Unfortunately I turned my back on it for a few seconds too long and it got scoffed by Mr Elbi. At least he enjoyed it. You can just about see here that the cake part is quite close textured. I think if using this slightly reduced mixture 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder is probably enough otherwise it rises a bit too much and collapses a little. Having said that, it did not affect the overall result too much and we had a great time eating and watching the last three great British Bakers sweating it out on the final. Everyone’s showstoppers were fantastic but I think Nancy stole the prize with her incredible edible Moulin Rouge (with moving sugar sails).

Trying Something New: Homemade Pasta

I love pasta. We eat it more than once every week. Its great for picnic lunches quick dinners, filling snacks, hot or cold, meat or veggie…… The number of options is endless which is why when I see people making pasta on Masterchef or (my new guilty pleasure) My Kitchen Rules, I find it somewhat odd that so many of them choose to make a pasta dish. It’s great but it seem somewhat everyday and straighforward for a cooking competition…….

But……

the contestants always make their pasta from scratch. How much better does this make it? I tried making pasta once when I was a lot younger and living in Italy. The pronblem was I worked too slowly and the dough dried out before I could get it thin enough to be perfect. This early experience put me off until now.

What’s changed?

A very kind gesture from Mr. Elbi:

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The second he offered a pasta roller I marched him off the road to the kitchen shop where we looked at two models. The Imperia at £60 and another which was a third of the price. On returning home to investigate further, the conclusion we reached was that anything cheaper than the Imperia was not worth the money as customer reviews all said the cheaper models lasted a couple of uses before breaking. Regretting his offer to buy one slightly, Mr Elibi suggested ebay where we found one for £25 pounds apparently used once then left on the shelf. It’s here and I am desperate to try it so it will be my Trying Something New for this week.

Before using the roller, I need some dough. The previous owner of my pasta machine left their recipe in the box and I decided to use it:

INGREDIENTS

8oz ’00 pasta

a pinch of salt

1 tsp olive oil

2 eggs

additional flour for dusting

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Place the flour on a surface and then make a well in the centre. Some recipes call for the flour to be sifted first but if I am completely honest, I couldn’t be bothered with this. Place the remaining ingredients in the well and gradually incorporate the flour. This will be a STIFF dough. If you are used to bread, it will feel wrong but persist and it will come together. Once you have a ball of dough, wrap in clingfilm and leave it in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.

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The Imperia need to be clamped to a table. None of the work surfaces in our kitchen are suitable so I had to use the dining table with an old appliance manual to protect the wood. When I started to feed the dough through the pasta maker on the widest setting, I thought it had gone wrong. Instead of the smooth sheets I was expecting I got:

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Remembering an old episode of Masterchef Australia where a similar thing happened, I kept feeding the dough through the machine and it started to come together:

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Once I had nice smooth dough, I fed it through again and again, reducing the width setting by one after each 2 passes until I got these gorgeous thin sheets.

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As this is my first use of the pasta machine, I kinda wanted to carry on playing so I cut the pasta using the thinnest setting. Although it is technically fettucine, it can easily pass for spaghetti as long as you are not a purist.

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I didn’t dry this pasta but sprinkled it with flour to keep the strands separate and then cooked immediately. This pasta cooks really quickly. I put it into boiling water and when it returned to the boil it was ready. The texture was amazing and overall, the rolling process and cooking only took me a few minutes longer than cooking dried pasta from a packet. It is definately having a go at making your own pasta. It makes the pasta a feature rather than a filler. I am very very happy with my pasta pesto 🙂

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Cutting Fabric for Patchwork

When I made my first quilt as a present for a friend’s baby, I cut all the pieces out by drawing around a cardboard template and cutting with scissors. I cut 36 squares from each of the three fabrics I used making the patchwork making a total of 108 squares. There is only so many individual squares a girl can cut out with one pair of scissors so I folded the fabric into thirds and cut three at a time. This method did have the advantage thar I could adjust the placement of the template to give more pices with full birds on them but the movement of the fabric meant that not all of the squares cut at the same time had the pattern in line with cuts. I did manage to find a way around the problem which you can read about here.

When I embarked on the second quilt, I wanted to cut more accurately to make the sewing part of the project a bit more enjoyable. There are a lot of interesting posts about the best way to cut out fabric on the internet and most of these suggest that a rotary cutter and cutting mat pairing is the best way for accuracy. With that in mind, I decided to splash out on a few more sewing goodies. It has been an expensive couple of months so I shopped around online and manage to find an A3 cutting mat and rotary cutter for about £8 on ebay. The cutter in particular looks as though it is not quite as sturdy as the one that most bloggers use but as an experiment, it is a cost effective tool for trying out cutting fabric this way. I also bought an 18″ ruler to use as a cutting guide.

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If you look at the spots along the raw edge of the pruchased fabric you can see that the print is not aligned with the raw edge.

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In order to cut nice neat square that line up with the print, the first thing to do is quare off the fabric edge:

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Next, using the newly cut edge as a starting point, measure the width you want and mark it.

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The fabric can be folded at this point so it all fits on the mat and then cut. The markings on the mat help to ensure the cutting guide is straight.

If you are cutting a lot of strips, it is worth squaring it off again after a few cuts in case it goes off grain.

Overall, the cutting out took about a quarter of the time that cutting the squares for the first quilt did. Additionally, sewing the suares together was a lot quicker and easier becauseall I had to do was match up the raw edges and use the quarter inch foot to guide the seam. So, without pinning and using the presser foor to guide the seams, I was able to assemble the quilt with almost all of the corners matching up.

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Quilt Number 2 – Fabric Selection

Following the success of my first quilt and how pleased the parents were with the homemade gift, I have decided to make another one for some friends expecting their first child in September. This time, I managed to rope Mr Elbi into coming to Fabricland with me so that he had a bit of input into the gift. Despite much complaining, I choose to believe that he enjoyed it although he said that I somewhat ignored his opinion.

I liked the size of the finished first quilt so I decided to go with a similar quantity of fabric – 3 quarter meter pieces for the patchwork design and a meter for the backing (all 45″ wide cottons from Fabricland). As usual there was a substantial array of prints to choose from and despite some questionable suggestions from my other half who at times definately seems to be colour blind, we managed to reach a consensus with a green/blue colour palette.

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The cream “French Hen” print fabric is the same design as one of the fabrics that I chose for the first quilt in a different colourwork. I like the fact that these prints have a variety of colours that can be picked out with the accompanying fabrics to make the birds pop in the overall finished design. I also chose the blue “Astoria” print which is a different colourwork of the same pattern as in the first quilt chosen to match the blue in the French Hen print.

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The third fabric is green “Tree Owls” print which again matches the “French Hen” print. The left hand photo is unfortunately a bit washed out due an unanticipated burst of sunshine. I didn’t notice this until after I cut the fabric and I wanted to show how sweet this print is when whole. I love to googly eyes and the variety of colours in this fabric – perfect for a baby/small child.

Although this is a present for a baby boy, there is something lacking in this fabric selection to make the colours more balanced. Therefore, I chose a solid red to make a border and pick out the reds in the bird print fabrics. Mr Elbi was also fairly insistent on the inclusion of a more stereotypically masculine motif so I gave him free range for the backing fabric and he chose this “Aeroplanes” print.

I have made some changes to my methods for this quilt from the first one which I will discuss further in the next post.

Exciting Delivery

I got  a very exciting parcel today. A parcel from TrixieLixie containing the two Sewaholic patterns I ordered.

Sewaholic Patterns

Sadly I didn’t manage to get to the post before Mr Elbi who was bewildered by the arrival of new patterns when there “are already sooooo many.” Bless him that he thinks that my pattern collection which has not yet reached double figures is extensive. He will learn with time.

These are the first patterns that I have bought from Sewaholic or indeed any “indie” designer and I will perhaps share my thoughts on that in a later post. However, I decided I needed some summer dresses to take on holiday with me and I just loved the relaxed drape of the Saltspring. I also loved the versatility of the Cambie pattern which keeps popping up in the blogosphere in endless new guises. I can’t wait to get sewing and see how these turn out. Now to fabricland so I can buy some fabric 🙂