Archive for August, 2012

This is actually the best chilli jam in the world. I mean, I’ve made some in the past which is good, but this stuff is totally outstanding.

Delicious chilli jam. I could eat this on a spoon, but it’s amazing on tempura things and basically, anything in a batter.

So, without further ado, here is Misti’s recipe:

8 pointed red peppers
A chunk of root ginger as long as your middle finger and twice as fat, peeled and chopped roughly
8 good sized garlic cloves, peeled
12 medium hot red chillies deseeded and roughly chopped
660g golden caster sugar
250ml red wine vinegar
1 400g tin of whole peeled tomatoes (I find cherry tomatoes work best here but any whole tomatoes in their own juice will do)

  • Half the peppers and remove the seeds. Place the peppers on a grill tray, skin side up and grill under a high heat until the skin starts to blacken and crack.  As soon as they are cool enough to touch, peel off the blackest parts of the skin and discard.
  • Chop the peppers roughly and put them in the bowl of a food processor with the garlic, ginger and chillies. Blend until finely minced.
  • Scrape into a large, heavy bottomed pan with the sugar, vinegar and tinned tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour and 10 mins, or until it reaches a jammy consistency. Pot in sterilized jars while still hot.

Round here

I’m up north right now due to a long and bizarre series of events in which I went slightly madder and my maternal grandmother caught shingles. Right now I’m enjoying a coal-fired Aga, lots of tea and the cool weather that only a Scottish summer can provide.

In between picking gooseberries and playing with vintage Fisher Price I decided to try out Amazon’s publish to kindle feature.

When I was around 17, I started writing a novel with my friend Jenni Clapham. We tried publishing through conventional means with mixed success. We were shortlisted in numerous competitions and had initial interest from various agencies and publishers, but for one reason or another, everything fell through. So, rather than leaving the book on my computer doing nothing, I decided to put it up on Kindle.

I think this is some wall in Vienna… it might be Prague…

I’ve got mixed feelings about this. When I wrote it, I was so full of passion and enthusiasm. I’m not 17 any more though and I’m wondering if perhaps I’ve grown out of the story. It is exactly what I’d have loved to read at that age, but now it feels… angsty? Clumsy? I don’t know. It doesn’t feel like me any more – a sharp contrast to when I wrote it and had trouble differentiating between Marlo and myself.

In any case, don’t expect any mad plugs. I wrote it, I’ve put it out there on all the social media I have access to and I will let it speak for itself. If you do come to read it, please leave an honest review on amazon – no one gets better at writing without taking criticism and I so want to get better.


Jacqueline – by Jenni Clapham and Fran Moldaschl

The 1906 election is looming in Krevaria.

Prime Minister Jacque Vikellan is desperate to secure the support of mining corporations, operating in the disputed north. In a final attempt to make peace with the rebel tribes, Vikellan proposes marriage between his younger brother and the tribal leader’s daughter.

But an ancient evil has been slumbering within the mountain village. Carried south to the capital and into the heart of government by the bridal party, the wizard Myrddin prepares to have his revenge on those who imprisoned him.

This was really fun and quick to make – as are most things which involve my glue gun! Whilst I had an MDF board as my base, I would recommend an art canvas instead – not only because it would be easier to hang, but also because it would be less likely to bonk anyone hard on the noggin if the cat tried to walk on it.

You need:

  • A base – MDF or a canvas
  • A covering fabric
  • Ribbon
  • Button trim

You will need…

Wrap your board like you would a gift.

Glue your ribbons in place with buttons at the points they cross.

Aaaand, that’s it. Easy.

Of course, you could make it look super-pro and go for very organised, regular lines… This one is a picture from and looks awesome.

Basically, you need to wrap your base in the fabric as if you’re wrapping a gift. Then, on the reverse, mark even intervals to show you where to attach the ribbons. I would illustrate with a photograph but I was too excited to stop gluing. Once you’ve done that, you need to glue the ribbons in place however you fancy doing them. In each place they cross, glue a groovy button. Score.


“This is for yanking my heart guts!” — Fiona.

Adventure Time. Come on, grab your friends.

Unfortunately, I can’t really punch what’s yanking my heart guts right about now. Bub is all sick and sleepy and though I’ve often said that I wish I could go back to the days where she’d just snooze on me for hours at a time – so that I could simply sit and enjoy cuddling her without having to worry about packing to move – I’d rather she was up and being her usual busy self.

Aside from anything else, I’m actually starting to get a little bit tired of Adventure Time. Seriously. The girl is mad for it. When one episode finishes, she goes in search of the remote and then whacks it at me until another one begins. Well… today, it was more of a lazy pointing accompanied by a whine but… you get the idea. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s the best cartoon around, but I’ve only got half of each season so the episodes are beginning to feel a little repetitive.

And my heart guts were yanked again today for Baby Bro. Seriously, the boy is 22, but I’d still love to punch whoever didn’t give him his license in the back of the head. Or set my warrior queen on her when she finally gets out of the fade (yeah, I’m playing DA: O again… what’s it to ya? *threatening look*) My point being, you never really stop being someone’s child/sibling regardless of how old you get.

This has caused another gut-wrenching realisation that I have the rest of my life to fret over every cough that Bub ever has.


Maybe I should just punch S-, and tell him off for the whole heart gut thing.

Cheap and effective, these little rice bags are brilliant alternatives to hot water bottles and sacks of frozen peas. They’d be great thrown in with a sports bag/voucher, or with some nice soaps and hot chocolate for a snoozy, treaty sort of thing.

You need:

  • A kilo of rice (Sainsbury’s Basics is around 40p)
  • Enough fabric to contain it, in a shape of your choosing.

For this, I wanted a long, thin bag to stretch across the small of my back. So, I cut a piece of cloth twice the length I wanted, folded it in half with right-sides together and sewed up the sides. After I’d turned it so the right sides were facing out, I poured the rice in and stitched up the top.  Total time to make, start to finish? Around five minutes if that, and for only 40p plus fabric scraps, this looks like it cost a lot more.

Supplies. This rice came from Aldi for around 40p. Sainsbury’s Basic is a similar price.

Sew up the long edges of the bag with right sides facing.

Turn it so that the right sides face outwards…

Fill with rice.

Sew up the top.

Done! I guess you could use this as a draught-excluder-come-doorstop.

For heating, start by placing in the microwave for one minute and see how that feels. If it’s still not hot enough, go up by ten seconds. I’ve found that these bags are usually best when heated for around one minute thirty seconds, but I really would recommend testing yourself to ensure you/the recipient doesn’t get burned. As ever, I accept no responsibility for crafts which go horribly wrong and hurt you – physically or emotionally…

To freeze the sports bag, do just that. Toss it in the freezer, leave a few hours and then apply to anything you’d normally douse in peas.

Points to consider:

  • If you wanted to make this a little more decorative, you could attach trim to the fabric before sewing it into a bag.
  • For a freezer bag for sport, you might want to try a square shape. Not only will this fit better in the freezer but it’ll also cover more body parts.
  • If you were feeling really creative you could decorate the freezer version like a bag of frozen peas.


Oh yeah. I’m there.

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If you’re not much of a knitter, don’t worry. This is just about the easiest thing you can make beyond a simple garter stitch scarf. The yarn and not the knitting itself is what makes this look so good, which means it’s important to get your grubby mits on some Wendy Wisp wool. This comes in a range of soft, muted colours and is often classed as a chunky yarn. Another massive bonus is the fact that you can usually find it on ebay for less than £2 per ball, making this whole garment come to around £3.50 in material costs. Can’t grumble at that. Even if ebay can’t provide you with the yarn, Deramores usually have it on sale and even buying from a mainstream retailer like this will only leave you around £7 out of pocket.

So, easy and cheap. Score. Let’s get started.

  • To begin with, you need 7.5mm needles and two balls of your chosen Wendy Wisp colour.
  • Cast on two stitches and then knit one row.
  • Add another stitch to row 3. Knit row 4. Add another stitch to row 5. Knit row 6. And so on.
  • In short, you’re knitting garter stitch and increasing by one at every odd numbered row.
  • Do this until you finish the first ball of wool.
  • Join in the second ball.
  • Instead of increasing every odd row, decrease instead.
  • Cast off when you are down to two stitches.

Points to consider:

  • When you’re increasing your number of stitches, try to do this at the end of a row – it gives you a cleaner edge.
  • When you’re decreasing stitches, knitting two together at the end is usually the best way to go. Again, this gives a clean edge.
  • If you’re interested here is the original blue version of the shawl I made last year. This was also a gift for my mother in law – she liked it so much she asked for another colour. Praise indeed 🙂

Come to Denmark

A Ladybird ‘easy-reading’ book.

Just had to share this little second-hand gem that my mum came across the other day. Me and S- have been having a very fond chuckle at how nicely this has dated. So much of what’s contained therein is still quaintly relevant, whilst the idea of having to fly between Danish islands makes me giggle – you can drive from top to bottom of this nation in four hours and across it in five…

So yeah, thanks Mum! 😀

This is so easy to make that it barely requires explanation. To get these super cute toy pasta bows all you need is a 45p sheet of felt, some pinking shears, some normal scissors and some thread.

All you need to do is cut strips with the pinking shears, then cut across with the normal scissors to make squares.

You will need…

Sew here…

Cut thread. Voilla.

Make more. Put them in a bowl. They look pretty.

You could always make/reuse an actual pasta box when giving to a child for a toy kitchen.

This makes a really lovely gift and for only 45p and around ten minutes of sewing, you can’t really go wrong. I’ll be posting lots of toy food over next few weeks as I make it – guess what Bub’s getting for Christmas.

Kite Height

I couldn’t possibly write a more succinct tutorial for this decorative kite than the incredible Disney at Ruffles and Stuff, but I did think of an alternative use for it.
Originally intended as a hanger for all of Paige’s adorable hair bows, this cute little kite was totally lost on my bald baby… So I decided to use it as a height chart, tying a new bow on the tail at various ‘milestone’ stages of Bub’s life.

Here’s my attempt in all it’s badly photographed glory. To see a decently documented version, head on over to Disney’s page for a good look! I absolutely love my attempt (which was made from a tea-towel) and can’t wait to add more bows as the years go by.

My supplies – a tea towel and wire coat hanger.

Kite, sans ribbon

Hung on Bub’s wall. No natural light available for this shot as we’ve had to nail a massive blanket over the window to keep it dark in kiddo’s room, thus preventing 5am mornings.