Monday 31 October 2011

Strasbourg sunset triptych

It is always difficult to think of gifts for my Dad, and even more so because his birthday is right before Christmas. This year, I am on a homemade trip and have decided that pretty much all presents will be made by me and am even roping the boyf in to make some culinary xmas goodies for family! What to make for my Dad, though? I took some inspiration from Lucy over at Make Do and Blog and went with a unique oeuvre d'art.

This is the view from my balcony (lucky, huh?) and I will really miss it when we move back to the UK in a few weeks time.

On a bright, clear day you can see the Vosges mountains in the distance. Today is heavy fog, so not much of a view at all! I thought it would lend itself well to a triptych.

I bought a set of mini 7cm x 7cm canvasses at the local supermarket the other day and also some very reasonably priced acrylic paints and had a go last night at my first ever acrylic painting.

It wasn't easy to get the dark foreground to make it look like dusk, but the sky was fairly straightforward. Not having ever been taught how to paint, I didn't use any particular technique, just went for it!

The bumpy canvas wasn't that easy to paint on, but I got used to it after a bit.

Above is the third canvas with Strasbourg cathedral spire in it. There are fabulous views to be had if you want to climb the narrow, stone, spiral stairs to the rooftop.

I am pretty pleased with my final effort (difficult to stop fiddling with it!) and think it will make a nice little present for my Dad :)

Saturday 29 October 2011

Fimo skull earrings

With Halloween and Mexican Day of the Dead approaching, I thought I would share my Fimo skull earring set with you.

I recently had a second set of holes pierced in my ears (I know, late starter! But then I only had my ears first pierced when I was 18) and was looking for some nice little earrings. What I really wanted was a matching set of 4 earrings, but there didn't seem to be much available. I therefore thought I would make my own set.

I made the skulls out of glow in the dark Fimo for extra spookiness and then added the decoration. Here are the smaller pair. I glued a pair of earring backs onto them once they were baked.

I pierced holes in the larger skulls and added rings and earring findings. I also added a little Swarovski crystal to each one for added sparkle.

I will be wearing my earrings for Halloween, but I like to wear them most days :)

Wednesday 26 October 2011

2 for 1 pumpkin fun

With Halloween approaching, I decided to get in to the spirit of things with some pumpkin action! My boyfriend and I wanted to have a go at the Nigel Slater pumpkin pie, so we picked up a small pumpkin at the local supermarket, scooped it out, steamed, then roasted the flesh and wrapped it in puff pastry. Hey presto, a tasty pie for dinner:

I then carved the leftover pumpkin into a lantern.


Saturday 22 October 2011

Roll it, bake it, wear it!

I  suddenly felt the need this week to make myself a necklace. I wear a lot of grey, but also really like bright colours and thought that a necklace with muted shades and a pop of colour could be just the thing to wear for work this winter. I'm getting a bit of an 80s vibe from this design ;)

Using Fimo, I made a selection of round beads in grey, black, black mixed with pearlescent, granite, marble and  two larger beads - one fuschia mixed with pearlescent and a bright yellow one. I also rolled a couple of beads in silver leaf. It sticks really well to the modelling clay and you can bake it no problems. Once the Fimo had been rolled into balls I pierced them with cocktail sticks and put them on a baking tray ready to go into the oven. I think they look like funny olives on sticks!

The great thing about Fimo is that it only takes 30 minutes to bake and not that long to cool down, so fairly soon after I could start stringing my beads.

I put small silver beads in between each Fimo bead and finished it off with a silver catch.

My finished necklace. Can't wait to wear it out somewhere! :D

Monday 17 October 2011

Sail away with me

At the end of the summer I was wandering around one of my favourite shops: Natural Edge in Leigh-on-Sea (UK) and they had lots of lovely things in there, as usual. I bought a couple of little wooden boats at very reasonable prices. However, I was attracted to a larger wooden yacht and found myself thinking, "I could make one of those!" and so instead of forking out £28, I set to making my very own sailboat.

First I took an ordinary piece of pine and using a belt sander shaped it into a hull. I'm sure you could use an ordinary hand held electric sander or even sand paper if you cut out more of the shape with a hack saw. It will just take longer! I used a bamboo skewer for the mast and boom and my Dad kindly made the little stand and cabin from wood off-cuts lying around in his workshop.

Although I thought the natural wood looked lovely, it wasn't quite right for my sail boat, so I decided to give it a lick of paint. I found some nice matte acrylic paints in the sale in my local art shop (Graphigro Strasbourg - huge range of materials for all your crafting needs!) for ony €1 each - bargain!

Time to start thinking about the sails. I did some research online into what shape the sails should be and then sourced some great stripey fabric from a cute little shop in Bath (UK) called The Makery. They have an  online shop too. As well as a range of lovely fabrics, they also have a basket of scraps in store, which was just what I was looking for to make my little sails out of.

I cut the scraps into triangles and turned the edges over and sewed them on my sewing machine. I then threaded some twine through the seam and tied them to the mast and boom.

I then added the finishing touches of a name and home port to my sailboat.

The good sloop Homespun was then ready to sail away with the trawler and mini sailboat.

Friday 7 October 2011

I knew you were coming, so I baked a cake

Well, what with the new dessert forks from my previous post, I felt a New York cheesecake was in order ;)

I took the recipe from a book I've had a while:

Luckily, you can get Digestive biscuits in France for the base, they are called Sablés Anglais. I couldn't find sour cream anywhere, so used Schlagsahne with lemon and sugar added to it for the topping, which seemed to work ok. 

Looking forward to trying the cheesecake tomorrow when our guest arrives :)

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Easy-peasy empanada recipe

My boyfriend and I love to experiment with food from around the world. After picking up this fabulous book in a sale in London we have been doing a lot of tapas.

We recently had a dinner party and tried out some new tapas dishes. My favourite was the vegetable empanada. It was pretty easy and also tasted delicious. This week I decided to create my own lower fat chicken version:

  1. In a frying pan, fry chopped garlic, chopped onions, sliced chicken breast rolled in paprika, some sliced courgette, some chopped jalapenos and one chopped tomato. 
  2. When the chicken is just about cooked through, remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Take a pack of reduced fat ready rolled puff pastry. I used Henglein Blaetterteig light from Germany, but in the UK you could use Jusrol, which I'm sure is just as good. It depends how big you want your empanada to be, but one pack of pastry was enough for a 4 portion empanada. 
  4. Unroll the pastry and lay it on a greased baking tray with half of it hanging off one end. 
  5. Spread some tomato puree onto the base, then spoon in your chicken and vegetable filling. Season with salt and pepper. 
  6. Fold the other half of the pastry over and seal the edges by crimping with your fingers. 
  7. Cut a couple of air vents in the top with a sharp knife, brush the pastry with egg or milk and pop it in the oven at 220 degrees C for 30 mins or until brown.

The finished product should look like this - yum! Enjoy with a glass of Rioja :)

Monday 3 October 2011

Fimo à la Française

At the moment I am really into modelling with Fimo. I bought a new book last week: Créations en Fimo and there are some really great projects in there. Even if you don't understand French, the pictures are enough to give you a good idea. The author doesn't go into a lot of detail about technique anyway, so it's trial and error at first!

So far I've tried making the Russian dolls, but instead of making the bag charm as outlined in the book, I made them into small flat buttons. I'm going to sew them onto a plain blue cardigan I have that could do with brightening up.

I also had a go at some of the large buttons from that book. The black ones turned out well, but the transparent Fimo didn't really work as the pattern sort of blends in with the background. I'm thinking of sewing the black ones onto the front of some white trousers I bought recently.

My most recent creation is covered handles for dessert forks. Starting with 4 different colours (I chose Fimo Effect granite and marble with Fimo Soft 61 and 62) I rolled the Fimo out to make equally sized sheets. I then laid them on top of each other in a sandwich.

Using a sharp knife you cut 3mm wide strips across the sandwich and lay the strips next to each other to make a repeating stripey pattern. You can then wrap this around the handle of your cutlery and bake.

Here are my finished dessert forks with stripey handles:

I'd better make a cheese cake or something so I can try them out ;)