Wednesday, 27 February 2013

How to Give an Old Tee New Life

Hey Kids, 

Satch here. My parents got me a sewing machine for Christmas and now I have given up TV for Lent, I have plenty of time to use it. This means that I've managed to finally do some of the little projects that have been sitting in a pile in my room for months, like this one! 

I bought this T shirt a few years ago and I absolutely love it. It's cute, it's punny and, more than that, it's ironic because I'm actually dairy intolerant! However, it's always been just a little bit too see-through for my taste (why haven't they invented a white T shirt that doesn't do that yet?) and you can't quite see but at the top it has started to go a bit yellowy and gross. However, I wasn't quite ready to throw it away so here's how I gave it a new lease of life. 

You will need: 

One old T shirt with a motif you love
Another T shirt/Vest top (preferably the same colour) 
A Sewing Maching/A needle and thread and a lot of time on your hands! 
Thread the same colour as your chosen Tee. 

Start by cutting out the bit you want to keep from your old tee. This was my first proper go on my sewing machine so I cut out the picture a bit wonky on purpose because I knew it was not going to be perfectly neat! 

Then, pin it to the new tee. Make sure you stretch both pieces of material as much as possible so it doesn't get all bunched up. 

 Then, whack it on your sewing machine and sew it in place. I used a zig-zag pattern so it would hold down the edges and not have any little flaps. If you're sewing by hand, I'd recommend doing a loop stitch but, then again, I'm no expert! Also, fair warning, that will take AGES.

 And hey presto! Even though there was a few patchy areas where it got bunched up and I missed a few stitches, I'm so pleased with the results! (And I don't much care about things looking neat anyway.)

One of a few whoopsies!

The finished product!

What do you reckon? Also, be impressed with my leggings in the photo just above - my 75-year-old Grandma chose them! Isn't she down with the kids?! 

Until next time,
Satch x

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Shirt Pillow Covers

Hey Kids, 

Satch here. As you're probably aware, we've just survived Valentines Day. Whilst Cobb and I aren't really into it (our anniversary is on Feb 1st so we don't have much need for another lovey holiday two weeks later), I do think Valentines is a good day to show the people in your life how much you care (though you should be doing that all the time anyway!) 

My cousin Nimz has a bit of a thing about swallows. She even has a swallow tattoo, which is why I was so confused when she gave me a bag of old clothes, and this shirt was included. 

She said she'd bought it because she loved the pattern and the colour, but the collar didn't look right and she couldn't make it work. I took it home and looked at it, to see if I could adapt it for her (with half a mind to keep it myself...) but when I realised my sewing skills weren't quite up to scratch to make a new top out of it, I decided to upcycle it into a pillow and give it to her for a Valentines Day treat!

You will need: 
An old button-up shirt
A pillow
A sewing machine / a needle and thread

Firstly, make sure your shirt is big enough to fit the pillow by buttoning it up and shoving the pillow inside. A man's shirt would probably be easier to work with because men are more square than women are, but it doesn't really matter. 

Then, take the pillow out and turn the shirt inside out, making sure the buttons are done up. At both ends, pin the sides together in a straight line, so you make a square. You might want to trim off the extra material at the top and the bottom of the shirt at this point, but I left it on there because there were no sleeves or anything getting in the way, and it gives you more wiggle room if you go wrong! 

Then, sew the sides together in a straight line, as near to the edge as you can manage. 

You can see that my line looks a bit wonky, but this is because the shirt was curved at the bottom, so I sewed in a straight line and then trimmed off the curved bits. 

Do this on both sides, and then unbutton the shirt, turn it outside in, stuff in the pillow and hey presto! 
Because the buttons were already on the shirt, it makes the pillow cover so much easier to make and you can take it off to wash it, if you were so inclined. Nimz was really pleased with it and it genuinely took me more time to change the thread on my sewing machine than it did to actually make the pillow! 

So what do you reckon of my first foray into upcycling? Anyone know how to do it with a shirt that doesn't have buttons? I could not work that out! 

Until next time,
Satch x

Monday, 18 February 2013

Gooey Chocolate Brownies

So I think it's clear by now, that I'm (Salt) the fatty with the sweet tooth. Its an honest miracle that I don't need to be rolled down the road.

But here it is - another baking recipe.

This time, Brownies. Yummy, scrummy, couldn't be worse for you, gooey in the middle chocolate brownies.

I baked this batch as a request from the boyfriends housemates. They've all just moved into this lovely London flat, and have been kind enough to let me stay and shower. I fully intend to be there quite a lot and so told them I'd bring baked goodies by way of rent. They seemed happy with this arrangement, and this time, requested brownies.

I didn't get a chance to take any photos of them (foolish - I know. I can only apologise.). You'll have to take my word for it when I say that they looked like this, but without the nuts:

You can add as many bells and whistles as you like to these brownies, but in this instance I didn't as I didn't know if Lewis or Dan had nut allergies, and we all know that fruit in desserts is a controversial topic.
I was a bit worried it would make them a bit hefty, but it didn't. Win.

What you need:
250g Unsalted Butter
200g Dark Chocolate
80g Cocoa Powder
65g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
360g Caster Sugar
4 large egss

I did warn you it was an unhealthy one....

Right, and now the method:
1. Pop on your oven to pre-heat to 180oC/Gas Mark 4
2. Line a baking tin with greaseproof paper. I spent ages trying to get all the crinkles out, and I'm really not sure its possible, so learn from my error and don't stress over it!
3. Melt the butter and the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. If you want to add cherries/raisins/nuts etc - now is the time to committ.
4. Mix together all the dry ingredients, and then add the chocolatey, buttery goo. Mix together well.
5. Beat the eggs together, and then add into the rest of the mixture. Stir together until all nicely blended.
6. It should be really liquidy still, so pour straight into the baking tray and flatten it out so all corners are covered and its nice and level.
7. Pop them in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. You can check they're cooked by popping a skewer in the centre of the brownie. Unlike a cake, you don't want it to come out clean. Goo is good!
8. Let them cool in the baking tray, and then lift them out on the baking paper. Cut them into individual squares (or rectangles, if you're feeling crazy), and your yummy gooey brownies are ready to be munched. Delish.


Friday, 15 February 2013

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Hello one and all, Salt here.

I don't know about you, but I love a good bake (as does Satch!) and although I won't pretend to be fantastic at it, there's nothing more calming and therapeutic than spending a quiet Sunday afternoon whipping up a batch of brownies.

And honestly, I need to get snapped up soon, because I cannot imagine anything I'd like more than to be a housewife, who spends half her time going on nice lunches with the girls, and the other half baking while the baby sleeps and the puppy bounces about around my feet, waiting for my rich and beautiful husband to arrive home from work (preferably with a bunch of flowers). In my eyes, that is utter perfection. And that makes me Wife Material. Yes. I said it.

So here's a little creation to tempt any potential suitors out there. Chocolate Crinkle Cookies!

What you need:
175g Plain chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp unsalted butter
175g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g icing sugar

The method for these is simple, and also gives lots of excuese to 'clean' the mixing bowl. Instantly a brilliant recipe!

First, melt the chocolate and butter over a saucepan of simmering water (Bowl licking opportunity #1)
While melting and then letting it cool for a little bit, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Next, beat the eggs and sugar with an electric whisk for 2 mins, until they turn pale. Then lower the speed, and pour in the chocolate mix, and add the vanilla extract. Finally, add the ready-mixed dry ingredients until all nicely mixed together.
I was a bit worried at first that it was so liquid-y, but do not fear. Have faith in your baking skills, cover the bowl in cling film, and pop it in the fridge for an hour and a half.

Come back to it once its all nicely set and cooled, and pre-heat the oven to 160oC.
Line a baking sheet with baking paper, and pour the 60g icing suger into a bowl.

Scoop out the mixture, and roll it in your hands into balls that are approx. 4cm in diameter. Roll the ball in the icing sugar, and pop onto the baking sheet. Then gently press down until flat, but make sure they're still quite thick. Mine were about 1cm in depth.

Once you've done this, pop them in the oven.
Now, the danger is in overcooking them. For me, one batch came out beautiful, and the second came out a little bit over done, with about a minute difference in time. The recipe says 12-15 minutes, and I've now worked out that mine take 13minutes exactly.
The great thing about cookies though, is that unlike cakes, there's no problem in opening the oven door to check on them, so keep checking!

Et voila!
I was pretty impressed with them - they're certainly the most successfull cookies I've ever made.
If you feel inspired to try them - let me know how it goes, or if you have any other cookie recipes that you think I need to try then get in touch too!

Big love,

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Cinnamon and Ginger Christmas Cookies

Hello Friends :) 

Satch here. Salt's been a bit zealous with the ol' blog posting so I thought I'd better keep up my end of the bargain! 

Over the last few years I've been a bit obsessed with baking, (I make a pretty excellent cupcake, it must be said) and since I spent 6 months being unemployed with Nathy Nath and Sophie Davis (who must always be fully named) that baking bug has only grown! Those kids certainly know their way around a good bake, so thanks to a lot of Baking Thursdays (and Nath's unhealthy obsession with Catherine from Great British Bake Off) I've managed extend my repetoire beyond cupcakes and branched out into all sorts of lovely treats! 

This certainly came in handy over Christmas, as I was only employed from the beginning of December and had to find some way of showing love to people without actually spending any money on them! Luckily, I found this cinnamon cookie recipe online, but I gave it a bit of a twist and ended up inventing amazing icing in the process! 

What you need for the cookies: 

150g/5oz Self-Raising Flour
150g/50z Plain Flour
2 Teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon
125g/4.5oz Butter
100g/3.75oz Caster Sugar
1 Egg 
1 Blog-Writing Buddy to do all the mixing for you! 

What you need for the icing: 

Icing Sugar (the amount varies depending on how many cookies you have/how much you colossally mess up the simple process of adding water to sugar!) 

(Roughly) Half a teaspoon of Cinnamon
(Roughly) Half a teaspoon of Ginger
Food Colouring

To make the cookies, mix together the butter and sugar and then add the egg (the recipe says to beat it first but I never bother and it turns out just the same!) 

Then add in both types of flour and the cinnamon together (again, the recipe says to sieve it together separately in a bowl but who can be bothered with that either?!) 

Mix it all together until it forms a ball of dough (you might have to get your hands involved!) 

Sprinkle some flour on the surface and knead the dough a little bit just to make sure it all comes together. 

Roll out your dough so that it's roughly half a centimetre thick (these cookies are meant to be soft rather than snappable so they're a bit rubbish if they're too thin) 

Cut out your shapes with some fun cookie cutters (I tend to wiggle them about in the flour first so the cookie doesn't stick to the cutter) 

Pop them on a baking tray and put them in the oven at 160oC for 10 minutes. (It's better to underdo it than over do it!) Leave them to cool while you do your icing! 

For the icing, mix roughly 100g of icing sugar, a sprinkle of water and the ginger and cinnamon. I do this by experimentation so I'm afraid it's not an exact science!

Add in as much food colouring as you want, but you want a decent colour because ginger makes icing look a bit pooey...I picked red because it's Christmassy, and I'm not sure how I feel about green icing.

Then keep tasting the mixture and adding water/sugar/cinnamon/ginger as required until it all comes together nicely, but don't overdo it on the spices because it can come with a real kick! 

Then hold a tea spoon of the icing above the cookies and move it back and forth, letting the icing fall in a zig zag onto the cookies.

Let it dry and voila! 

Depending on the size of your cutter, one lot of dough goes a long way - However, when Salt joined me for cookie-making fun, a lot of the dough mysteriously disappeared...

Over Christmas I wrapped a few up in a bundle of greaseproof paper with a nice ribbon round the top, which looked pretty cool!

Cinnamon and ginger are pretty Christmassy flavours, but change the cookie cutter to something less festive and they're great cookies to make all year round. For my birthday party (which was disney princessy) I used pink icing and a heart-shaped cutter. On a random occassion I also experimented with bright blue icing on stars and dalek-shaped cookies, but my cousin Naomi found that too shocking as an icing hue!