Faux fur collar.

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It feels like months have passed since i’ve been on my sewing machine. I’ve done a few alterations, but other than that it actually has been months since i’ve sat down and made up something pretty. So I thought i’d jump back into it with this beautiful (and really simple) faux fur collar. Any clothing shop you go into right now will have jackets adorned with these, this is a quick  up-date on your current jacket. It can also be worn as a scarf over a chunky knit jumper.

Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Faux fur, about a mitre in length, width depends solely on how thick you want your collar.
  • Lining fabric. this can be something cheap and cheerful, i’ve gone for a white satin. you can use anything. A colour to match or contrast.
  • Fabric shears.
  • Dressmakers pins.
  • My FREE pattern, you can find that a bit further down.

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Here’s what you need to do.

So first up, we need a pattern. There are two ways to do this, you can either print of the pattern I have made (I am 4 foot 11″ and a size 8. This goes down to my waist) print it off, cut it out and tape it together, have a see if you like the width and length. Its so easy to add (or take away) a couple of inches if you want to adjust. The pattern is in three parts, you can find them Here, here & here.

pattern

If you don’t have a printer, its not a problem. grab some cheap fabric, something you’re really not going to use, an old sheet is perfect for this. Cut off a big strip, longer and wider than you want (You can always trim, you can’t add the fabric back on, so always cut more tha you’ll need unless using a pattern) Now simply grab your dressmakers pins and have a play around with sizes, in no time you’ll have something that fits perfectly to you.

So now we’ve got our pattern, fold your lining fabric in half colour side down. I’ve gone for this white satin, its a slippery fabric to work with, so if you’re not that confident stick to a cotton. Now Pin your pattern to your fabric, you want the top edge of the pattern pinned directly on the fold, so when you open it out it will be one long piece.

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Next, grab your Fur. Although the fold in half method is quicker, with fabric this thick it isn’t exactly easier, and you’re more prone to mistakes. So open it out fully, pin the coloured (or in my case shiny) side face down to the fur.

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Now cut around your pattern.

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Next, we need to sew. So starting from the inner neck area, sew around, leaving your 1/2″ seam allowance. DONT sew all the way around, you need to leave a gap of around 3 inches at the end, making the hole you’ll need to use to turn it all out. Back stitch to secure your stitch at the end and take out of your machine. *There is an alternative method that will need to change this section slightly, i’ll get to that at the end.*

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So now, the majority of your two fabrics are sewn together. Using a combination of gentle tugs and a chopstick (My go to tool for turning out fabrics) you want to turn the fabric the right way round, it might take a little effort, but be careful, any ragging and you risk ripping it.

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Now, grabbing your needle and thread, you want to pinch the raw edge of your lining under, so its on the inside and  sew the folded edge of the lining to the fur tightly. if pulled tight enough and if sewn neatly you won’t see this at all. I’ve used a simple running stitch. Be sure to knot your thread at the end as well, or it will just pull out.

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And thats it, your faux fur collar is ready to wear over your coat. A quick and simple update bringing an old coat into the current season!

* I mentioned an alternative method a few steps ago, this is incase you want to actually attach your fur to your coat, I didnt need to do this, you’ll find most good quality faux furs are quite heavy and the coat I’ll be wearing this with, I never fasten anyway, so I didnt feel the need. If however you want your fur collar to stay in one place, you can attach a small piece of looped elastic between the seams at the bottom (both ends) of your fur collar on the step with the *. You then attach a button on the inside of your jacket at the same level on one side, and hoop the elastic over existing coat button and the button you’ve just added on the other side. -I hope all of this makes sense?!-

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Slap on some red lipstick, throw on your faux fur, you’re glam and ready to brave the cold.

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

 

 

Double Chocolate millionaires shortbread.

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Today i’m back with another mouthwateringly good recipe. Double chocolate millionaires shortbread. A layer of buttery shortbread, topped with fudgey caramel, finished off with a smooth double chocolate layer. Perfection in one slice. It is really simple to make, certainly not quick though, but the majority of time in-between starting and getting to eat it is spent waiting, so there isn’t too much to do. Its perfect to make the day before you want to serve it. I’ll be adding this recipe to my Christmas day family feast dessert table… it really is that good! So lets get started.

Heres what you’ll need,

For the Shortbread:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 180g butter
  • 75g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract/paste

For the caramel.

  • 100g butter or margarine
  • 100g light muscavado sugar
  • 2  cans condensed milk

For the chocolate topping:

  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 180g bar of milk chocolate.

 

And here’s what you’ll need to do.

First we need to make the shortbread, so preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4 and line your baking tray with baking paper.

Next cream the butter and sugar together and add the vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add flour and salt and press onto the bottom of a greased tin.

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Bake 20-25 minutes until shortbread is pale golden. Set aside and allow to cool.

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Now we need to make the caramel. Pour the butter, sugar and condensed milk into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Reduce the heat and simmer very gently, stirring continuously until you’re mixture becomes thick and fudge like. This will take about 15 minutes, it does take a while, your arm will ache. But it is so worth the effort. I promise.

Pour the caramel over the shortbread and leave. You don’t need everything to be completely cool, you just need the top layer of caramel to set, this will take about half an hour.

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Now onto the chocolate. Melt the milk chocolate, I nuke it in the microwave, first for 30 seconds then in ten second intervals stirring in between each go. Remember, the heat from the melted chocolate will melt the solid bits, so don’t overheat or you’ll just burn it.

Once the milk chocolate is set, set it aside for a moment and melt down your white chocolate in a separate bowl.

Pour your milk chocolate/butter mixture over your caramel smoothing it so it covers the entire surface.

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Using a spoon, scoop up some of your white chocolate and drizzle in swirls around your tin.

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Now using a knife, or kebab skewer swirl across, making a lovely little pattern. I pretty much zoned out whilst doing this, I over swirled almost mixing the two chocolates completely, so try to avoid that.

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Now comes the hard part. Waiting. You’ll see a glaze set over the top of the chocolate, the tin will feel cool. This is how you know it’s ready to tuck in to. You can put it in the fridge if you like, but the caramel will go really hard, making it difficult to slice (and eat), so remember to take back out 4-6 hours before serving, so it can warm up a little.

Once cooled, tip out the shortbread, slice and tuck in.

 

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end

Perfection.

Robyn,

The little woman pretends .

My Christmas wish list.

It is officially ONE MONTH until christmas! One whole month until the day of food, family and general merriness.

This  means I can finally get excited doesn’t it?! Well I am doing anyway.

As of now I can hum christmas songs to my hearts content, add to our decorations with a couple of lovely trinkets, start planning the Christmas day feast I will be feeding my family and most importantly send Sam the link to this post daily, just to make sure he doesn’t forget what I would like for christmas.

I’m obviously not expecting them all… I’m more of a giver when it comes to christmas. But at least now he has something to reference to when buying for me (Yes Mr. S, I am talking about the fiasco of 2010 when you bought me a shake weight, there’ll be NONE of that this year.)

 

wishlist

  1. Harry Potter book box set (Paperback) – £29.99 : The book people. 
  2. Miss dior cherie perfume £44.55 : Debenhams. 
  3. Nike blazers- £37.99 : Amazon. 
  4. Floral cushions. £19.99 each : Zara home. 
  5. Extra tough wine glasses (Set of four) £24 : Selfridges.
  6. Heringbone throw £19.99 : Zara home.
  7. Lace up flats – £29.99 : Zara. 
  8.  Loveable, livable, home – Young house Love. – £15.90 : Amazon. 
  9.  Jumpsuit – £50 : Asos. 

Let the gift buying commence!

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

Homemade cold remedy.

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‘Tis the season… for cold and flu. Especially if you’ve got little ones at school or nursery. Germs breed amongst children, and then they multiply in your home before infecting everyone else, leaving you to look after everyone whilst still suffering – Ahh don’t you just love winter. Well… suffer no more, with this all natural, tasty cold remedy.

This is NOT a miracle cure, it will in no way eradicate all germs, but it will make you feel a little better. And when you’ve got four thousand things to do, all you can hope for, is to feel a little better.

I can vouch for this completely, Its basically a homemade Lemsip type drink, minus all the random ingredients they put in.  When you’re throat is raw, the warmth will sooth the discomfort for a while, when you’re brain feels as though a little man with a pick axe has taken to mining against your skull, the natural healing properties of ginger, lemon and honey will help fight the nasties that are trying to take over your immune system.

 

So here’s what you need. 

  • 1″ chunk of fresh ginger.
  • 1 thick slice of lemon.
  • 2 teaspoons of honey.
  • enough hot water to fill your mug
  • a tea strainer if you’ve got one. cheese cloth if you haven’t or you can even make a very quick & easy tinfoil tea strainer, 30 second tutorial can be found Here.

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And heres what you need to do. 

First boil your kettle, prepare you teacup and tea strainer.

Next, grate your ginger and add to your tea strainer/cheesecloth/tinfoil DIY strainer.

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Pop your ginger filled strainer in your tea cup, along with your honey & pour your boiling water over.

 

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Slice of a nice chunky piece of lemon and pop it into your teacup.

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Now, simply leave your tea to brew for a good 3-5 minutes, the longer you leave it the more ginger will infuse, giving more of its natural goodness to your drink.

Finally, remove your infuser, give a good stir and sip.

The warmth will immediately sooth you. The honey coats your throat, the lemon and ginger working together to help ease aches. And all completely natural. Grab a book, a warm blanket, put your feet up and get well soon!

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

Cheesy pull-apart bread.

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I’ve seen these floating about looking all cheesy and delicious, so I finally decided to have a go at making some pull apart bread, making my own little tweaks. This stuff, is the absolute bomb – as long as you’re a cheese lover that is! Which I most definitely am.

So, i’m going to stop rambling and just get straight on with showing you how to make a mouth watering, melted cheese pull apart bloomer.

Here’s what you’ll need. 

  • 1 uncut loaf, a bloomer or something similar.
  • 1 Mozzerella ball.
  • 250g cheddar cheese, at least. Add more if you want more.
  • 50g butter
  • 2 garlic bulbs, peeled.

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And here’s what you need to do.

First preheat your oven to 180.

Now slice diagonally across your bloomer, taking care not to slice right through the bread. Repeat again, cutting diagonally in the other direction. It’ll be a little harder to slice this way, so be gentle.

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Next, popping your bread to the side, place your butter and garlic bulbs in a saucepan, placing it on a low heat until the butter has melted and the garlic bulbs start to turn golden, this will give the best garlic flavouring.

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Time to prep your cheese, you can either grate, slice or just roughly chop. I’ve chopped the mozzarella and grated the cheddar.

Finally we can put it all together. First, spoon out some of the butter, drizzling it into the gaps.

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Now, stuff a mixture of your two cheeses into the gaps, making sure all of the spaces have been filled. Don’t be shy with the cheese here, the more the merrier.

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Next, wrap your loaf up in tinfoil and place it into the oven, middle shelf for about 10-15 minutes.

Once your time is up, take the bloomer out, unwrap, revel in those delicious aromas and try not to scoff it all before you’ve shown off your amazing bake.

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The double cheese pull apart bread can be served on its own (Friday night treat with a glass or three of wine) or if you really have to share, paired with a rich and tangy tomato soup like I have.

Delicious.

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

World prematurity day 2015: My story.

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November the 17th is world prematurity day, anyone that knows me personally, knows why this is such an important day for me.

I haven’t shared my story publicly, I was unsure wether I ever really wanted to. Its completely out of my comfort zone to write up and share such a personal blog post. But as something that changed my life completely,  I feel maybe the time has come for me to tell it – in the shortest way possible.

Mischa Swain, was born in the city of Bielefeld (Germany) on March 11th 2011, 11:34pm, weighing 1lb 8oz. Mischa was born at 25 weeks gestation, fifteen whole weeks early.

She was my first child and I was only nineteen. The day of my labour, everything was as it should have been. We’d been re-located to the army housing in the beautiful small city of Gutersloh three weeks prior. Sam had started work at his new base, I was bumbling round the house trying to find things to clean amongst the empty rooms that were due to be filled with our belongings a fortnight later.

And then it happened. I won’t go into all the gory details but at just after 9pm I knew it was time to go to the hospital, this wasn’t something and nothing. We arrived, I met the  wonderful staff. I was 3cm dilated and there was a chance this could be stopped. Twenty minutes later, that dream was crushed, I was 5cm dilated, our daughter was coming and fast. We were told the possibility of her not surviving was there and even if she did survive the possibility of her being severely disabled was high.

I was rushed into theatre, crying, terrified doesn’t even begin to explain. My baby was too small, too underdeveloped to survive on her own. I begged, pleaded with them to save her, before I was knocked out to the whispers of a german anathesiest trying to comfort me.

I woke sometime before midnight. Sam’s face filled with relief (I didn’t find out until afterwards, but due to complications he was told the possibility of loosing both of us was there. Poor sod.) We were told we had welcomed a beautiful little baby into the world, she was very poorly, but she had survived the C-section.

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The days after were a blur. I lay in the hospital bed surrounded by heavily pregnant women, all going through the stages of their labour. My thoughts never straying  far from what had happened, desperately trying to remember the first time I met my baby.

The journey that followed was a hard road for us all, I wasn’t used to being a mother, wasn’t sure what that even meant at this point. There was so much I wanted to do for her, feed her, change her nappy, even hold her. But she wasn’t quite ready, she just lay, fighting to survive.

Two weeks after she was born I got to hold her, it wasn’t at all what I had expected. I didn’t feel the rush of love, I didn’t cry, I didn’t laugh, I didn’t feel relief. I felt nothing, unsteady. I just wanted to put her back in the incubator, let the nurses look after her, they were doing what I couldn’t by keeping her safe and I couldn’t shake the feeling of worthlessness.  Regardless of how I felt, I continued the kangaroo care, knowing one of these days I’d feel that rush I was waiting for. At this point the no pressure approach was the only way to function.

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The weeks passed and the long days went on, we visited the hospital every day, 8am – 8pm. Every day she got stronger, taken off more machines. There were set backs of course, she received a lot of blood transfusions, she picked up a lot of infections. But she managed to avoid any major surgery and every day she grew that little bit more stronger.

One normal tuesday morning eight or so weeks after her birth, we arrived at the hospital, this day was special. I had been promised on this day I could bath her for the first time. No tubes, no machines. Just me cleaning my baby. We arrived, the nurse apologised, but she had been bathed not long before we had arrived. I burst into tears, for the first time I was furious at how absolutely unfair the whole situation was, I felt robbed. Something so simple, this was my moment with her. I was supposed to finally get a first. There were many moments like this, many were I selfishly hated the world, hated the women that got to do it properly, hated the people that got to go home with their baby. I hated my body for not keeping her safe, hated it more for not being able to produce the milk she needed. I hated Sam for telling me everything was going to be okay, hated the nurses for doing what I wasn’t able to. It was a funny ol’ place to be, one I have learnt to deal with as time has passed.

Eventually, twelve long weeks after her dramatic arrival in the world. Mischa, Sam and I went home. We went home with a healthy baby, we slept, we fed, we changed nappies. And two or so months after that, whilst feeding her, she smiled. My darling girl with wide eyes filled with love and curiosity, looked at her mummy and smiled. I laughed out loud, kissed her chubby cheeks and felt my heart burst with love for the strongest person I had ever known.

And thats my story. Now, nearly five years on we have a healthy, happy, clever little girl. One who lights up the room with her love for everything, one who’s caring and hilariously funny. A healthy child who’s smile makes me burst with pride every day. We are so incredibly lucky to have Mischa still with us, even more to have her here so healthy. I’ll never forget those early days and i’ll never, ever take my role as being her mother for granted.

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

*For more information on World prematurity day, head over to the BLISS website *

DIY: Tassel garland.

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Pinterest, Instagram. They both have an overload of photographs featuring these pretty little things. I can’t believe i’ve dared  call myself a blogger when I haven’t once featured a tassel garland photograph! Well today that’s changed, and i’m going to show you how to make your very own.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Tissue paper, Three or four colours, at least three sheets of each. I’ve gone with three colours, three sheets of each, making 18 tassels altogether.
  • String
  • Scissors (NOT fabric scissors, you’ll damage the blade cutting paper)
  • Glue gun/gluesitck/cellotape.

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Here’s what you do:

 

First, grab your sheets of tissue paper (you can do this with one piece of paper at a time, or you can do what I have done & layered all the pieces of the same colour on top of each other. It saves a ton of time cutting each sheet individually). Fold in half, and then fold in half again the other way. So I first folded from left to right in half, and then half again from top to bottom.

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Now, grabbing your scissors, you want to start cutting 1/2″ strips up the paper, stopping about 3 inches before you reach the top.

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Continue this process, snipping strips all the way to the end of the sheet.

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Next, Separate one sheet of paper from the rest, laying it flat out on your surface. Cut all the way UP (not across) the centre fold, giving two sheets to be made into tassels.

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Put one sheet to the side, turning the other sheet round so the tassels are on either side. If you are using a piece of tissue paper that isn’t double sided, flip it so the coloured side is on the bottom.

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Now, start rolling the paper, from bottom all the way up to the top. Tip: stop every now and again to untangle the tassels either side, they can get tangled, just give a quick shake, don’t pull at the tassels, they easily rip off.

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You will end up with something that looks like this.

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Now you want to work from the centre, twisting tightly across until you have something that looks like this.

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Next, its time to get the glue gun out (or pritt stick if your using that instead) odds are you won’t need any glue, once you’ve folded  your tassel in half, you’ll find the twist is strong enough to hold a hoop on its own, if however it doesn’t, you can use a dab of glue to secure it.

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Now, grab your string and thread your tassel on.

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Finally, repeat the last six steps again, until you’ve tasselled up all of the pre-cut sheets, before starting on your other colours. Once all your tassels are made up you can have a play around, decided which order you’d like your colours to be in.

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I’ve gone for these neutral yet luxurious gold, cream, copper combination. I did originally want to add a pop of colour with some mustard tassels, but the tissue paper still hasn’t arrived.. I’m more than happy with this beautiful combination though. A lovely handmade touch to my craft room. All for £6.03 (the cost of the tissue paper – with lots left over to make more).

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

 

Top picks: Wellies.

Did you know, on average the wettest month of the year is December – although if this week has been anything to go by, November is vying for the top spot. Well bearing this in mind & the fact that storm Abigail is supposed to be coming. I thought i’d get practical & find the very best wellies on the market. I’ve recently purchased a new pair for myself, they’re comfortable, stylish and for every pair bought 10% goes to helping the bees. They tick all the boxes.

wellies

 

A good pair of wellies are invaluable. Save your shoes from going soggy, invest now and you’ll keep those tootsies toasty through all of winter (and next year, seen as the cheap isn’t always best rule, always applies to wellies). Here are my top picks.

 

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1- Wellyprint (striped): £24.95 (down from £39.95 ) Joules.

2- Steve madden red: £24   (down from £60) Dune 

3- Anna field black & white floral: £19.50 (down from £30) Zalando.

4- Wolf & york black floral: £19.99 (down from £24.99) Surfdome

5- Biker: £24.99 Newlook

6- Back strap in green: £115 Hunter.

7- AIGLE MALOUINE:  £60 Zalando

8- Skull: £19.99 Spylovebuy.

My favourites are those gorgeous Steve madden red wellies (number 2) I’m going to have to pop those on my christmas wish list, as with all footwear you can never have too many pairs of wellies, can you?!

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

 

 

 

Homemade butter.

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I’m all about the basics, whether its sharing my little tweaks to make quality homemade british classics, or simplifying it all with a basic recipe. Today I’m going way back to the very basic of know hows, homemade butter. Butter is used in all baking and most dishes, its been used for thousands of years. Fast forward to 2015 and we’re more used to using processed margarine’s, ‘spreads’ or shop bought instead of the good old homemade classic. Obviously I’m not going to start spouting about how everyone must always make their own, we’ve all got lives to live. But every now and again, its kind of therapeutic to just go back to basics, make something so simple from scratch and revel in how fabulously domesticated we are.

 So. Today I’m sharing a super easy tutorial on how to make it.

Here’s what you’ll need.

– 900ml double cream

Thats it!!!

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This recipe makes roughly around 200g butter, my scales are broken *Gasp* so I had to guestimate. Its definitely not less, and if its more, you have more butter than you bargained for, its not really such a bad thing is it? All in all it cost £2.01 (Aldi do 300ml pots of double cream for 67p each)

Here’s what we’ll do.

First you need to decide how you want to mix your cream. There are a few ways to do this, you can use an electric whisk, a blender or even go super old fashioned and use a jar (I really would not advise doing this with a hand whisk!!! it takes a while, your arm WILL feel like its going to fall off).

So once you’ve decided (I used an electric whisk) whizz your cream until the curds and butter milk separates. Usually 5/10 minutes. If using a jar, simply pour your cream in, fasten the lid tightly & shake like your life depends on it.

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Next pull your butter out of the mixing bowl, leaving your buttermilk. Fill up another bowl with icy cold water (even better if you put in some actual ice cubes) Put your butter into the icy cold water and squish the curds together underwater to make a rough ball of butter. Repeat this process with fresh water until the water stays clear. You do this to draw out as much of the remaining butter milk as possible, the less buttermilk, the longer your butter will stay fresh.

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You can now add any flavourings, salt, garlic, herbs ect. Or you can leave it plain (I kept mine plain, I want to use some for cakes).

Next spoon your butter into a bowl or you can place it on a piece of greaseproof paper and roll it up.

 

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Now comes the good part, whether its a homemade cake or simple hot buttery toast. Everything you use your butter for will automatically be better than if using shop bought, simply because you made it yourself. I can tell you now, there isn’t anything better than a mug of tea and toast with homemade butter on a cold rainy day.

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Your butter will keep in the fridge for around a week, 2-3 if you manage to really squeeze all of that buttermilk out.

Enjoy!

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

My craft room wish list.

Its been a month or so since I finished the major work needed in my craft room, although the main work is done, the rest is a long way off. Already though, I love to spend as much time as I can in there. As I mentioned, all the major work has been done – the 6+ hours of hand painting the pink stripes grey, could have just bought a stripe wallpaper… but where’s the DIY in that?!

I’ve been scouring the web, searching for those special little somethings that will give my craft room that finished luxurious feel, the accessories that will take it from DIY to fabulous work room.

Heres my (rather unrealistic) wish list.

 

 

craft room

 

Chair – £279: Ebay.

Foley multicoloured bookcase – £128.99 : Argos. 

Hemnes glass fronted cabinet – £250 : Ikea.

Annie Sloan chalk paint in Burgundy – £18.95 : Annie Sloan

West elm rug – £299 : John lewis.

Bumblebee cushion – £9.60 : Marks & Spencers.  

Roberts revival radio – £199 : John lewis. 

Gold frame – £17.99 : Zara home.

Antique finish black frame – £19.99 : Zara home.

Parks London Candle (Ylang ylang & Sandalwood) – £9.99 : TKmaxx. 

Its all so calming, but still kind of dramatic. Exactly the kind of vibe I want my room to have. Now… to save the grand or so that needed to achieve this look. – Kidding- I’ll scour my local second hand shops, ebay, Facebook selling pages to achieve this look for much less. I’ll keep you all updated.

Robyn

The little woman pretends.