My (mostly) make ahead Pinterest Valentines meal

Valentines Day, and I’m at home with the kids for half term so I’ve spent the day preparing a fab three course meal to celebrate Valentines Day. As always I’ve dug around Pinterest to find my recipes.

For a starter I made these goats cheese puff pastry tarts – ready rolled pastry made them so easy, just a couple of minutes to put together then put them in the oven for about 20 mins, they can come out 5-10 mins before you serve.


For the main course I went for a beef stifado – I always love Greek food and I found this recipe, but I cooked mine in the slow cooker for 4 hours so I could get it started early and have no last minute prep. I served it with Orzo, which just takes 10mins to cook.


And to finish – a fab eton-mess style desert, I made all the bits up in the morning then just layered it together while I waited for the starter to cook.


All great recipes and not much stress in the making – time for chocolates and prosecco….

Brighten your day – a wet felting tutorial 

It’s a cold grey February day so I’ve been trying to brighten things up making felted wool balls.


There are loads of tutorials around for making wet felted balls, you can make them in the washing machine, or even shake wool around in a pot, but this is how I like to make them.

All you need is some wool roving, hot and cold water and washing up liquid.
Take a small section of wool roving – it needs to be quite loose with soft edges. Obviously it depends on the size you want the final item to be but a piece about as large as my hand was enough to make the balls that were approx. 1cm in diameter. If you want them to be larger it is often better to make a smaller ball then add more layers – otherwise the centre may not be firm enough.


Start with 2 bowls – one with hot water (as hot as possible for your hands to go in) and the other as cold as possible. Put some soap on your hands and very gently roll the roving, keeping your hands a little apart, until it begins to form a loose ball shape. I once read a tutorial that said to imagine you are rolling a baby chick in your hands – I remember that comment each time I do this…

From there it is about dipping it in the hot and cold water bowls alternately, rolling the ball round in the palms of your hand in between – the longer you roll the firmer the ball gets and the harder you can begin to apply pressure to it. At first it will be very squishy and hard to keep in a ball shape, be patient it will suddenly begin to firm up.

Dipping it in the different temperature waters it will help the felting process, it will also help to get rid of the soap as you progress.Keep rolling until the ball feels really firm. You will need to leave it for several hours to fully dry out.


My daughter loved joining in on this activity too – a great idea for a rainy day craft. I was very impressed with her finished leaf and flower!

There are loads of things you can do with your finished balls – create bouquets of flowers, garlands or even rugs. I use lots of colours, gradually layered together to make the balls and flowers in my Etsy shop:

 

Handmade Felt BallsHandmade Felt Ball Flowers

Sunday Pinterest Pancakes 

I’m a big fan of Pinterest – I could spend a whole day drifting through totally random collections of images. I find inspiration for my makes,  ideas of things to do with the kids, and I’m pretty sure I could plan 20 weddings, redecorate a thousand houses and book enough beach holidays to last a lifetime.

I hardly ever look in a cookery book now – I find tons of new recipes online and it’s easy to store them on my tasty stuff board. This weekend we’ve been trying out some pancakes from a Japanese hot cakes recipe I pinned. First version – Nutella filled pancakes.


I made the batter and put a spoonful in the pan, added a blob of chocolate spread and topped with a bit more batter, a bit fiddly  to do but turned out to be worth it. They rose really high and the Nutella melted in the middle, we loved them!


Next version? This time I substituted some of the flour for cocoa powder to make chocolate pancakes – served with blueberries and sliced bananas


Sunday morning breakfast success!

Squirrel coats and bunny trousers – getting crafty with Sylvanian Families

Christmas may be over but it’s still cold outside, so today we made sure that some of our Sylvanian Family friends got some nice warm clothes.

There are some amazingly talented makers who knit, crochet and sew beautiful, detailed clothes for these tiny creatures but I know from past experience that these can be tricky things to make.

I love working with felt. It has a lovely feel, doesn’t fray and and is easy to use – perfect for today’s task. I wanted simple, easy to make clothes so these are perfect for beginners, the jacket doesn’t even need any sewing at all.

First, some trousers. Cut a rectangle of felt long enough to go around the doll and wide enough to go from feet to waist.

Sew the two short ends together to make a tube, but only about 1/3 of the way – leave the rest open to go around the tail.

Sew the join to the other side of the tube with a few stitches to create two leg holes – don’t forget these little guys can have quite big feet so keep the holes as big as possible.

There are various ways to fasten the trousers at the top of the unstitched section – what you do might depend on how big a tail your critter has. You could add a small press stud, some Velcro or elastic. I usually use Velcro, but today I tried sewing a loop of thin elastic and sewing that to the inside at the waist, the tail fits into the unsewn section and the elastic loops over the top of the tail.

And that was the trousers – finished!

Next we made some dungarees for another rabbit friend. I cut a piece of felt in a T-shape – Sylvanian Families come in different sizes and tails make a difference so giving exact measurements is tricky – felt is easy to bend round and cut to size.


Fold the two long ends into the middle and stitch them to the other side at the bottom with a few stitches in order to create the leg holes.

Use thin elastic to make straps, sewing from one (unstitched) corner of the back to the opposite shoulder strap, then repeat for the other side. Then the dungarees are all done.

Finally I made a no-sew jacket. These are quick and easy to do, although you can add buttons, pockets and fastenings if you want to make it more complicated. For a simple jacket, cut a rectangle big enough to go round the doll, snip two small arm holes and add a slit or gap big enough to go round the tail – and that’s it!


Once they were all dressed and ready we decided to make a teepee tent for them to play in. Again I went for a simple, easy to make tent – all I used was a sheet of felt and some drinking straws. First build the straws into a frame – there are different ways of making teepees – i used 5 straws for mine. First I tied them together, then to make it more secure I sewed through the straws to keep them in place.

There are lots of templates and patterns online for making teepees – it basically involves a semi-circle, I used a little trial and error, pinning the basic felt shape onto the frame and trimming from there. Then I sewed the felt and straw together at the top and bottom of each straw. At the entrance I folded the edges back and sewed them open for easy access.


And now they are off to play with their tent in their new clothes, and I’m off for a cup of tea!

Every mum should have a hobby…. back to where it all began

Looking back through my old blog i found this post, which i wrote in 2013 when i started making things as a hobby. Its good to be reminded of why you do what you do sometimes…

I have always loved crafting and anything creative, but having children can lead you to put so many things on hold, and for me I always saw a distinction between what I needed to do and what I wanted to do.
Anyone who has ever tried to manage work / children/ dog / housework / life generally… will know that there are not enough hours in a day – and that from a mum whose son likes a 5am start to the morning!
The first thing you do is to drop the ‘what I want to do’ stuff and hope that leaves you with about enough ‘what I need to do’ time.

I recently moved from making and crafting on an ad hoc basis to developing into a business online, and I now see life in a very different way.

I used to see hours of must do chores in front of me by the time the children were in bed. There are, I find, two responses to this
a) spend evening fiendishly cleaning/cooking/being a goddess which leaves a tidy house and well fed family but isn’t particularly restful; or
b) realise it will all be messy again by lunchtime tomorrow so spend the evening watching TV and eating biscuits instead.

Since I moved into taking my crafting seriously enough to develop a business I spend a lot of my (child) free time either creating new ideas and restocking, or connecting through various social media tools to others in the same ‘business’ to learn from and engage with them. As a result the chores have taken a bit of a nosedive, and funnily enough no one but me even notices!

Before I began on this journey I used to get to the evening feeling tired and ready to veg and watch TV. For a long time I thought about setting up a business online selling what I make but assumed I wouldn’t have the time or energy for it, so I didn’t take the plunge – I really wish I had.

Having something in the day that is about me and for me makes me feel so much more invigorated about all areas of life. Somehow staying up until midnight to stuff lavender hearts means I wake up less tired that I used to after an evening on the sofa. There is a great satisfaction in creating something completely new and it doesn’t even connect to selling – it is about having an outlet that reminds you who you are.

Every mum should have a hobby – after all if you can make a real person who knows what else you can achieve!!!

PepperPot logo

New year, new blog…

When I first started PepperPot I set up a blog, but like so many others I gradually stopped finding the time to post. So as we start a new year I’ve decided to start blogging again, and I’ve set up a fresh new blog site here.

2016 was a busy year for my family, not least because we moved house, so along with sharing my crafting experiences i will be blogging about the places we go and things we are discovering in our new area.

Although i want to start with a fresh new blog i will also be bringing some of the old blog content across to here where it still seems relevant.