Saturday, March 31, 2012

A weekend make-a-long follower

Mary Louise followed the weekend make-a-long for the Easter wreath and came in to the cookery class last week to put it together.  She made it for her daughter April and used some bits from a broken wind chime.  It's really really pretty and I am sure April wil love it.  I know Mary Louise is busy working on another one now so I am looking forward to seeing it.  I am also hoping to see another 9 wreaths also made by the cookery class, I know Shannon has been busy making one too.

What do you think, super cute isn't it?

Weekend make-a-long: Colouring Eggs

Well as an instructional make-a-long this has already gone wrong.  I was trying to colour eggs and I failed so this now is a plea for help...can you tell me how to do it.
Inga is one of my students and she is from Latvia.  She said she was colouring eggs for the weekend and I asked her how to to it. So Inga uses lots of onion skins, she puts them into a pot with water and hard boils eggs in.  The onion skins colour the eggs a deep brown. She also said that she ties leaves onto some of the eggs and this leaves a leaf pattern.  Another design is made by putting an egg into a pair of tights and surrounded by raw rice. This gives a stippled pattern on the egg.
I decided to try this out this morning and patiently waited on the hens to lay.  I collected the eggs and then discovered I had no onions left (busy week making lots of curry used them all).  I did find loads of food colouring and decided blue eggs would be nice and heaped the food colouring into the pot, and boiled, and boiled, and boiled.  But no luck, I was expecting deep blue eggs but they are still the colour they started. One of them cracked and when I shelled it discovered lots of blue veins around it, weird looking more than pretty.  I haven't shelled the rest yet.  I did end up with some fantastic deep blue rice cooked though. 
I'm a bit wary of trying again afraid to waste more eggs.  I do think though that I will feed the blue rice to the hens and see if that affects the colour of the shells.
So, instead of me teaching you how to colour eggs I am asking you to teach me...thanks.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday recipe: Chicken curry

Indian chicken curry
4 chicken breast fillets (cut in large dice -- six to a fillet)
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Pinch of sugar and salt
3 tbsps curry powder, whichever you prefer
1 tbsp Chinese five-spice mix
1 ltr chicken stock (fresh is best, a stock cube is fine, or just water)
1½ tbsps of cornflour (softened with water)
1 bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped
2 tbps sunflower oil

1.       Heat a little sunflower oil in a pan and quickly colour the diced chicken. Remove from the pan and leave to one side. Add a little more oil to the pan and sweat the sliced onion and garlic until soft, but do not let them colour.

2.       Add the curry powder and Chinese five-spice mix and cook for a minute or two, then gradually add in stock. Bring to the boil and skim off any excess fat, if you've used a homemade stock. Season to taste with salt, and add a pinch of sugar.

3.       Thicken slightly with cornflour adding it bit by bit until you have the consistency you like.

4.       Now add the chicken to the sauce and simmer for between six and eight minutes. This will ensure the chicken is cooked through but still moist.

5.       Finish the sauce with a tablespoon or two of the chopped coriander leaves. You could also add some yogurt for a creamier sauce.

6.       If you leave your curry until the next day, it will always taste so much better as all the flavours will fuse together.

Serve with white boiled rice and naan bread


Some people like a fruity curry, if so add some chopped apple or raisins.
To increase flavour and nutritional content add some frozen spinach.

Thai Green Chicken Curry

A Thai Curry contains numerous fresh herbs and spices not all of which are easy to get. If like me you do not have access to speciality ethnic stores then look out for Thai curry pastes.

4 chicken breasts
2 sliced onions
1 sliced green pepper
3 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
Tin of coconut milk
Splash of vegetable oil

1.       Slice the chicken breasts into large pieces and stir into 1 tablespoon of thai green curry paste and leave.
2.       Soften the onions in the oil but do not colour.
3.       Add the chicken in paste and fry to colour chicken.
4.       Add chopped green pepper and tin of coconut milk.
5.       Stir in the rest of the curry paste (with practice you will know how much/little you prefer) and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
6.       Check chicken is cooked.

Serve with white boiled rice or rice noodles.  You may wish to add chopped scallions or chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime juice.

Alternatives:  This works just as well or even better with monkfish instead of chicken.  Add the fish with then coconut milk, bring to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes and check…the fish will be opaque if cooked but not tough.
Thai red curry paste is spicier in flavour but just as good.

Mood board: Fruit Stall

Making a mood board

I was writing an article for Irish Etsy Blog  Etsy Ireland about inspirations and where they come from.  I take photos everywhere I go and when looking back on them discovered many photos are of food and a large amount of these are markets. Normally I like really strong colours but found myself been drawn to a photo taken in the fish market in Venice of prawns and sea bass.  I love the soft pinks and the silver greys.

I thought I would try to make a mood board with this and see what I could come up with.  But I wanted it as a digital mood board to upload here and was having problems trying to find one.  I got a few good suggestions (thanks all).  I started looking for other images to use but found I was trying to match them up with this one photo..which is pointless, so just used this photo alone.  I opened it with IrfanView and played around with it, cropping and pixelating it and other effects and came up with the following...which is exactly what I wanted, breaking the image into colour and colour effects.

So, what to make with this.  Well first thought is a large quilt is many soft colours.  Second idea would be a wreath using the colours and maybe some sea life shapes.  I went to and searched through the colours and placed them on the inbuilt design board. This is a great tool where you can place all the fabrics and see if colour and pattern works together. I just have them layed flat but you can move around and place the fabric on top of each other.  I took a screen shot of the fabric and here is my selection.  Interestingly when I was selecting through the different colours I found I was selecting the same patterns.  The last fabric is a novelty fabric called "Sushi" and I just felt this added a little humour, maybe to be used as a backing or binding on table mats.
Now that I am inspired all I need is the time to create and the money to buy.  I think I will get 1/2 yard of each of these for next order and see how it goes.
What do you think????

Monday, March 26, 2012

My favourite words: Serendipity

Love this sounds like it is and I think it's impossible to say it without smiling and feeling good.

Serendipity means a "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise"; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it. Comroe once described serendipity as : to look for a needle in a haystack and get out of it with the farmer's daughter.

The first noted use of "serendipity" in the English language was by Horace Walpole (1717–1792). In a letter to Horace Mann (dated 28 January 1754) he said he formed it from the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip, whose heroes "were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of". The name stems from Serendip, an old name for Sri Lanka (aka Ceylon), from Arabic Sarandib, from Tamil "Seren deevu" or from Sanskrit Suvarnadweepa or golden island.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Weekend make-a-along: Take 6 shuffle quilt

So, some of you will have seen this already on Creative Living Forum.  And one of you has received the finished item.  But for the rest of you here is how to make a baby quilt using 6 fat quarters and the shuffle method.

It is a method to cut and shuffle fabric and has very little waste and is quick and easy.

So to start with take 6 fat quarters and layer them on a cutting board
I chose shades of blue and layered them in order of colour strenght.

Then cut strips, 5.5", 4.5", 3.5", 3.5", 2.5", 1.5"

Now shuffle, that is leave the first strip alone, take the top one from second pile and put it to the bottom, the the top two from the next pile and put them to the bottom, and so one. This will shuffle the fabric so each layer has 6 different strips

Now, you will sew 5.5 to 1.5 and 4.5 to 2.5 and 3.5 to 3.5 to give you strips of 6.5...(finished blocks will all be 6" square"

Finished 3.5" to 3.5" strips

Relayer and cut again into 3.5" strips and shuffle again and sew to together to make 6.5 inch blocks

4.5 and 2.5 strips will be recut as 4.5 and 2.5 strips, shuffle and sew

and 5.5 and 1.5 strips will be recut as 5.5 and 1.5 strips, shuffle and sew

Here is a baby quilt arrangement

The squares at the bottom are leftover and those odd shapes at the upper right are the cutoffs from 5.5 to 1.5 and 4.5 to 2.5 stripes (I used these in last project for table mats but in this one will be used fo the binding)

I sepcifically used all the squares with the brown fabric.

Then sew together...and add a border


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wednesday recipe: Traybakes

Ok today we are looking at making traybakes, sorry for the delay with posting.

A traybake is any sort of baking that you make in a flat tray and then cut into slices.  Great for parties and great for kids and for school lunches.

There are two main types, cereal based and pastry/cake based.

3oz marg
3oz sugar
tablespoon golden syrup
6oz porridge oats

Melt the marg and sugar and syrup slowly in a pot over a low heat.
While still on the heat stir in the porridge oats until mixed well.
Puor into a baking tray lined with parchment and spread evenly.
Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for about 12-15 mins until golden.

Remove and allow to cool slightly but cut into slices while still warm.

I love this with a topping of melted chocolate.
You can add any dried fruit or nut mixture to the flapjacks.

Great for slicing up and adding to childrens' lunchboxes.

Bakewell slices
These are made using short pastry and a simple bun mix with almonds.

3oz marg
3oz castor sugar
2 eggs
3oz self raising flour
3 oz ground almonds
strawberry jam
shortcrust pastry
6oz icing sugar
almond essence
melted chocolate

Line the baking tin with baking parchment.
Roll out the pastry and line the tin.
Spread evenly with strawberry jam.
Cream the marg and sugar together.
Beat in the eggs and then the flour and almonds.
Spread the mixture over jam and pastry and bake for about 20 mins at 180 degrees.
Allow to cool in the tin.

Make the glace icing by adding 1/2 teaspoon almond essence to the icing sugar and enough hot water to make a pouring consistency icing.
Pour over cooled cake and drizzle some melted chocolate over.
Allow to cool and cut into slices.

Cherry bakewells.
Add some glaer cherries to the cake mix and use cherry jam if you can get it.

Peach or pear slices.
As for Bakewell slices but add sliced tinned peaches or pears on top of cake mixture before baking and press down into cake mixture.  Use apricot jam instead of strawberry and do not ice.


Apologies, Wednesday recipe is late.  Pop back later for recipes for flapjakes and bakewell slices.

Photo credit:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday's catch-up

Well, what a busy week.  Sewing, baking, going to parades, setting up a market, meeting new people (hello Chelo, hello Michael), taking pictures for others (hello Donna, Catriona and Miriam) never mind the full-time job I have.
Anyway, so plans for this week.  Well right now I'm chilling with a glass of wine and watching Spartagus on Sky+ (and blogging, doh). I haven't got the van emptied yet so need to do that. Then tomorrow morning I want to get loads of new product photos taken an get new items listed with Etsy for sale.  You can find the my Etsy shop over on right side of this page, click a product link and it will take you to the shop.  Anyway because I am still in holiday mood I have a special offer on Etsy, free shipping on all products to Ireland and UK...enter the code Irishmadness1 at the checkout.  This madness runs until Easter Saturday.  New products will be available on sale from this Wednesday.

I need to organise Thursday's cookery class.  We will be making flapjakes and other tray sorry ladies but calorie high.
Friday then it is house cleaning day and cooking for the weekend.  It's darling husbands birthday and I am having all his family over for lunch on Sunday...17 at last count...and I would like to get food started early.  I'm thinking of fish pie, chicken and broccoli pie, beef and guiness pie (but using oxtail and ox tongue), some wilted greens and baked potataoes.  How does that sound? Mmmmmm

That leaves me no time to sew or craft...and I want to make a new wreath to go with easter table mats as they are having their first use for family lunch.  Hmmm will see how it goes.

...and I need to go to work aswell.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day market and parade, Borrisokane

Well, I told everyone I was coming home to blog about today.  Connection is very poor and I can't upload pics just now but will do so in the morning. Anyway, I finished getting everything ready last night at 11pm and was up early today and got van packed ready to go.  Amazingly it looks loads in the house but packs up neat and tidy.  The weather was fantastic and the skies were clear all day...unlike yesterday when we had rain all day.  We arrived in Borrisokane and the townspeople did themselves proud with flags and bunting everywhere and all the shop windows decorated. 
We set up the market opposite the viewing stand and thought this would be great...but I found myself coming home with a sore throat from shouting over the sound of the music.
We didn't sell out but I had a great day and got to meet loads of new people and show them my crafts...and hopefully get them to read this blog and see us on facebook and hello and please comment below.
Irish bike
April and Oisín all dressd up for the parade
The mayor leading the parade waiting on the band to catch up

Customers at the market

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Getting ready for Sunday

It may be the 18th March this Sunday but that is the day Borrisokane are having the St. Patrick's Day parade and craft/food fair.  So I have been busy sewing and making all sorts of things...the house is wrecked with bits of fabric and fluff everwhere.  And if you try to sit down be prepared to have a pin stick in you.

And some finished items.

And some non-patchwork things all ready on the dresser to be sold.

Monday, March 12, 2012

New week, busy week.

Hi all, hasn't it been a wonderful weekend weather wise.  I know it is now March but after last winter I am still expecting a cold spell.  I hope now that Spring is here and we are free now from winter storms.  Garden's are beginning to grow and it's great to see all the spring bulbs out and hear the birds everywhere. I got himself to go for a walk with me yesterday along the river bank, we were walking for about two hours.  There are now plenty of birds and fowl nesting along the banks and I hope to see loads of little chicks swimming in the water soon.
So home then and down to loads of sewing. The Borrisokane Community Forum are holding a market this Sunday in the town and I have been asked to take a stand.  So out came all the fabric and I have been busy making table mats and baby quilts.  OF COURSE I ran out of batting and backing and so need to get to Limerick today to visit the Limerick Quilt Centre and Hickey's to stock up.  If the market goes well they hope to have it as a weekly event.
And finally look what Gráinne sent me, a picture of her absolutely gorgeous son Cathal "modelling" a quilt I made her.  I wonder can I borrow him for a few more product shots...what do you think Gráinne, it could be the beginning of a lucrative career.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I've been featured, Irish gifts

Hi look here at this on Etsy Home made here in Ireland I've been featured in a Treasury list of Irish products.  The quality of crafts made here is amazing so I am really honoured and happy.  It shows my Easter table mats which I spoke about a few months ago that I was planning on making.

Wednesday Recipe: Buns ands Fairy Cakes

OK so in Ireland we NEVER call them cupcakes, its Buns or Fairy Cakes.  Here is the recipe for plain ones, this will make a dozen.

6oz plain flour
3oz soft margarine
3oz castor sugar
2 eggs
drop of real vanilla essence
splash of milk

Beat the margarine and castor sugar together in bowl until white and well mixed.
Crack in the two eggs and a spoonful of flour and whisk together.
The spoonful of flour will prevent the eggs from curdling.
Add the vanilla essence and flour and whisk again.
Check the consistency, is needs to be "spoonable" if not add a drop of milk.

Using two spoons drop into papercases in a bun tray.
Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for about 12 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

For fruit buns add 2oz dried fruit to mix
For chocolate buns replace 1oz of flour with 1oz cocoa.
For flavoured buns add fruit juice or jam instead of milk.
For citrus buns add citrus rind or zest to mixture.

Have fun.

and for ideas on decorating look here Decorating buns and cakes

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunny Sunday

Wasn't it a great day today.  I was woken by he hens at 7.20am and couldn't belive it was already so bright and sunny out...freezing but bright and sunny.  The hens were making a big racket and I think it's beacuse of the cockrel next door..he's crowing all morning and I think they want to get to him.
I got the sewing machine sorted and finished the baby quilt yesterday.  Áine wanted a penguin so I tried to make a template this morning and made a cute little stuffed penguin.  He looks good and I've called him Peadar, I want make some more but need to work on the pattern a bit.
I went out for a walk in the sunshine, a big wooly jumper, hand made mittens and a headwarmer all kept me cosy.  I only intended on walking to the bridge but came back all along the river so was walking for about 90 minutes.  I seen the first swan pair of the year on the river but couldn't get close enough to get a picture. Swan's are so graceful and pretty...I think I'll make some swan bookmarks.  As I was walking I was looking for great places to take new product photo shots and so if the weather is good will be out tomorrow with my camera. Will post pictures tomorrow. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Weekend plans...

..gone the wrong way.

So, I finished work at 12noon today.  Stayed around "gossiping" (having a planning meeting) for about an hour.  Heading off for lunch at office with husband and daughter and then got in the car to head to Limerick.

I had it all planned, a weekend of sewing.  Finsh off lilac babyquilt, finsh Easter table mats, start new babyquilt and make a stuffed Penguin (yes Áine...a stuffed penguin).

So headed to Limerick to Quilt Centre and bough VITAL fabric supplies.  Drove home and collected eggs from hens, then called over to my wonderful neighbour Liz and asked would she give me the loan of her curvy cutting ruler for 6 eggs.  She was happy with the trade and also gave me 2 metres of backing fabric and a metre of batik fabric...a great deal for me.

So in I headed to the house, took out the sewing machine and

aaaaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhhhh, it won't work. 
It keeps catching the bobbin.  I stripped it down, cleaned and oiled it but no good.  I have no sewing machine this weekend.

Am I glad I bought two bottles of I have no excuse not to drink them.
Unfortunately I also have no excuse now to get out of cleaning the kitchen.

Enjoy your weekend, love Tracy

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wednesday Recipe: Fish Pie and Cottage Pie

Well apologies, I am behind posting recipes this week.  I did the shopping today without the recipes with me so hope I bought all the correct ingredients.   I do know I have a 10kilo bag of potatoes......


Fish Pie recipe

1pt milk, 1 onion cut into quarters, 1 bayleaf
1lb white fish, 8oz mixed smoked fish, salmon and seafood
1oz butter. 2oz flour
Salt, pepper
warm freshly mashed potato

1.           Put the milk into a pot with the onion and bay leaf.
2.           Cut the fish into bite size pieces and put in post with any seafood you are using.
3.           Bring slowly to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
4.           Take out the fish carefully and set aside.
5.           Take out and discard the onion and bay leaf.
6.           In another pot melt the butter and add the flour.
7.           Stir and cook the flour but do not brown.
8.           Slowly stir in the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens.
9.           Put the fish into a pie dish and pour over the sauce.
10.        Pipe or spoon the mashed potato over.
11.        Heat in oven at 180C for 20mins or until golden and bubbling.
Add some sweated leeks or hard-boiled egg to the fish mixture.
Add some chopped parsley to the sauce.
Add grated cheese to the mashed potato.

Cottage pie Recipe

Splash of oil
I large onion chopped
Garlic to taste
Chilli or paprika to taste
2 carrots grated
1 ½ lb minced beef
Tablespoon tomato puree
Tin tomatoes
Herbs of your choice
10 oz beef stock
Warm freshly mashed potato

1.           Sweat the onions and garlic in the pan until soft.
2.           Stir in the paprika, chilli and tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes
3.           Add the mince, carrots, tomatoes, stock and herbs.
4.           Bring to the boil slowly and simmer for 20 minutes.
5.           Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if you wish.
6.           Put in a pie dish and top with mashed potato.
7.           Heat in oven until hot and bubbling.
Add some mushrooms or peppers to the meat mixture.
Use Quorn mince, a tin of beans and no stock for a vegetarian pie.
Use half potato half parsnip in the mash.