Thursday, 28 February 2013

Crazy Cake

It's grey outside.

 There's a bitter cold wind.

The brave little purple crocus flowers, which a couple of weeks ago were happily opening their pretty faces towards the early spring sun, are now furled tight like closed umbrellas. 

The cold and cough that have been hanging around too long are getting you down.

So what's a girl to do but ...............bake!


Now this is one clever recipe, given to me by my good friend Julie from the USA who was given it by her friend Val when she was a student in California back in the 80's.

The whole preparation process is so easy, no hassle even when you're feeling under the weather - all you need is..........
 a large baking tin, a set of measuring cups (or a tea cup would do), a set of measuring spoons ( or a teaspoon and a tablespoon) and a spoon to stir.

Here's the crazy stuff
 - you make it direct in the tin, no mixing bowl
- no eggs
-no butter
- you use vinegar (!) but don't let this put you off - you won't know it's there

Here's the recipe


3 cups flour ( self-raising, but can use plain with an extra 3/4tsp baking powder per cup, or a mix with ground porridge oats is good)
2 tsp bicarb of soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Pre-heat oven to 350 F, 160 C fan

Place all dry ingredients into a 9 x 13 inch (ungreased) tin ( I used a roasting tin) and mix well.
Make three indentations in the dry mix and add the following, one ingredient to each hole.

3/4 cup oil ( I used olive oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tblsp vinegar ( I used cider vinegar, wine vinegar would also work but I'm not sure about malt!)

Then pour 2 cups cold water over the entire mixture and mix well until everything blended.

Bake 25 - 30 mins.
May still be moist but do not overbake.

Cake may sink a little but it is moist and yummy!

So - no eggs, no butter, no mixing bowl!

I believe this may be an adaptation of cake recipes used during the war when eggs and butter were scarce, and I've seen a few such recipes floating around recently on Pinterest.

It can be eaten as it is,or you could add icing - Julie sometimes adds a chocolate cream cheese topping.

Go on, give it a whirl!
It'll make the dull day feel brighter!

Thursday, 14 February 2013










Although Romance, in the Valentine's Day sense, sadly flew out of the window a long time ago here, I was nevertheless surprised and enchanted to be handed the most beautiful bunch of white, deep pink and blush pink roses at the weekend by Mr G.

Thrust at me with an unromantic "here you are" he then stalked off to bring in the rest of the shopping.

After picking myself up off the floor (the shock dear readers, the shock!), I questioned my daughter and discovered that she had put the idea in his head.

I guess he bought them as insurance against today.

I particularly love these palest pink roses tipped with darker pink.


The beautiful heart you can see above is one that I was sent from the lovely Ruth at Oh So Vintage - as well as her blog, Ruth has a wonderful online shop selling all sorts of vintage goodies, and I was the lucky winner of a competition on her blog a few weeks ago.

The heart is made from a gorgeous red vintage french Toile, and smells heavenly as it's filled with lavender.

Thanks Ruth, I love it!

Ruth has just bought a gorgeous Schnoodle puppy called Henry, so do check out her blog to see some photos of this darling little puppy!

Recently I treated myself to a couple of vintage "trio's" from eBay, pretty ones in good condition that can be used rather than shut away in a cabinet like my other vintage and antique china.

This very pretty blue floral set

And this gorgeous trio to match a few other pieces that I started collecting a few years ago.

Every now and then I look out for some more pieces, and I now have a set of tea plates, a "tennis" set (an elongated saucer and plate combined, so that you could have a cup of tea and a cucumber sandwich or slice of cake all held in one hand - clever eh?) and this trio.




I've just bought  this lovely new patchwork and quilting book by Nicki Trench, and I love her "anyone can do it" approach. No hang ups about the right and wrong way to do it, just go for it!

It's full of gorgeous inspiring projects, and if that wasn't enough to encourage you and get you sewing, Nicki has a blog here to check out. She has written quite a few other books, and also runs workshops in patchwork and crochet!

And you can buy some of the lovely fabrics she uses from Laughing Hens.

I'm already itching to get going on two different projects in the book!
But before I start anything else, I have another project nearly finished which I hope to share with you soon.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

A Floral Tuesday



The sun is out today, although there is a cold, biting wind.

I know this as I have had two long walks in it today!

I picked up a tray of pale yellow primroses this morning with a view to potting them up into containers for indoors, and a pot of pink hyacinths that was marked down.

Whilst looking for a suitable container for the hyacinths, I came across this old floral pot in the shed, left behind by the previous owners. I assumed it was an old one (and probably a chamber pot judging by its one handle), but when I looked underneath I was surprised to find it marked Portmeirion.

It's such a sweet old fashioned design, with brown leaves and yellow and peachy pink roses, and inside there is a large spray of flowers on the bottom too. It's quite large, so at first I thought it may have been a soup tureen in a former life. But having just had a quick look on Google, I think it was a potty after all!!!
They seem to have produced two sizes of chamber pot in the 60s and 70s, a child's one and a larger one - this size is the larger size.

Just right for the pot of hyacinths, topped off with moss.

Glad I decided to use it for that and not serving the soup ;)

A few weeks ago I cut a small branch of camellia as an experiment to see if the buds would open in the house.

We now have colour showing on one enlarged bud, but I'm not convinced it will fully open. A few smaller buds have dropped off.



The hydrangea heads that I cut in the autumn have provided soft, faded colour over the winter, and I was thrilled to see fresh new leaves appearing - they do seem to root in water very easily.



The thought of Spring and the colour of primroses inspired my latest hexy project - a cushion, no surprises there - some more hand sewing to work on whilst I wait for more materials to arrive so that I can finish the other hexy project I showed you in my last post.

Fried eggs or Daisies?

Or, at a pinch, pale primroses?
Either way, it was inspired by flowers and meant to have a spring-like, floral feel to it

And still on a floral theme, I have put a piece of vintage crochet at the top of one of the kitchen windows, as it has a drab view overlooking a fence and the neighbours house.

Even though it does make the kitchen a little darker when the sun isn't shining, it is worth it for the prettiness - the design really shows up in any light, and I'm happy with it for the moment - although I need to have a search through my crochet, linen and lace stash to see if I have something that fits better, and in white maybe rather than coffee.




I'm amazed that the pink poinsettia I bought before Christmas is still flowering.
I'm pleased I haven't killed it off yet as it's still looking pretty.

But I have never been able to keep one from one year to the next - does anyone know the secret to achieving this?

Wishing you all a Happy Week - are you doing anything exciting?

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Friday, 1 February 2013

February Friday Flea

Oh my dears you are all so kind to leave such uplifting comments on my last post - I felt I had to thank each one of you personally, so I have used the "reply" facility on the comments on that post - I'm not sure whether that means it comes through to you email, or whether you won't see it unless you re-visit the post? And I don't think people always do.

It would be interesting to know if you did receive a reply direct? Maybe not the "no-reply" bloggers?

Anyway, either way, I thank you all so much for your support and kind words!

I popped into the local Antique and Flea Market this morning on a whim, despite the pouring rain, and it was well worth while, so please bear with me whilst I share this mornings haul!

First up, a gorgeous bright seersucker cotton table cloth! It's relatively large, which suggests that its probably 70s or 80s, as my other seersucker cloths that date from the 50s and 60s are much smaller, in keeping with the smaller kitchen tables then.

But it's such a cheerful one!

A lovely red silk scarf with a nautical theme


A cheery green scarf, hand rolled hem but looks like acetate


Oh, and this darling little pale primrose glazed chintz drawstring bag! I am love with this, the little red roses are so small and sweet, and seeing it makes me want to rush off and make lots of little drawstring bags from the vintage chintzes I have!



And pour moi, a lovely china blue and white floaty and frilled summer top, Per Una.

And for my daughter, a gorgeous emerald green and white boned bodice, strapless little number from Jane Norman - someone has added wide lace straps which I can remove if Bella doesn't like them.

The white cotton embroderie anglais trim at the hem is part of the original design.


Isn't it sweet!!!?
I wish I were still a size 10!

All the above for a tenner!  The dress alone would cost nearly that in our local charity shops which are not cheap these days!

Not quite such good value, but still worth buying, were the following two lots of beautiful braid.

such a gorgeous pale blue with pretty pink and yellow roses and rosebuds.

And a wider beautiful pale gold woven braid.

Then from Heather, the lady I usually buy from, just a few things today (after such a huge haul last week - see this post for part of it.)

A beautiful little piece of hand crafted needle lace....

a panel of finely hand crocheted lace, which, once washed, I'm hoping will fit across the top or bottom of my kitchen side window which looks out onto a fence!

And a pretty pair of hand stitched, hand made cushion covers




So, a pretty good haul to cheer me on a miserable wet morning.

And here's  my little companion watching whilst I take photos - he loves lying at the top of the sofa so he doesn't miss anything passing by outside!

Just a glimpse of a work in progress that I'm hoping to finish soon......

I love making hexies!

nearly finished joining them up.. ...I do love hand sewing

This panel's finished already... I wonder if you can guess what it will be?

And here's my cosy nook in the sitting room where I'm hand sewing at the moment - the chair contains the WIP bag (made from vintage floral linen ), plenty of cushions, and a warm throw for when its a bit chilly!  The flowers on the jasmine that I bought a week ago have just started opening, so when you walk in the room, or when sitting in my chair, you can smell the heavenly scent.

Maybe I should've tidied the chair before I took the photo!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

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