Monday, 31 January 2011

The Secluded Tea Party

Yesterday I attended the very fabulous and utterly scrummy Secluded Tea Party hosted by Miss Sue Flay - what a great alias!

I've never been to a pop up restaurant or foodie event before so this was my first, it was held at the Cambridge Cookery School, a shiny and new food school in Cambridge - perfect for the tea party.

I found it via Twitter and me and a few other Cambridge foodie friends ( Nora, Ireena & Sarah ) went along to join the party.

We had some brilliant tea from Tea Pigs and Tea Box Online - I had the rhubarb and custard tea from Tea Box and it was yummy, just right on its on and slightly sweet. The Earl Grey was much nicer than any I'd had before, not the fake orangey-bergamot you get from mass produced earl grey, that was from Tea Pigs.

But now, on to the food! We had red onion jam & pancetta tartlets, little sandwiches with the crusts cut off, chocolate macarons sandwiched with vanilla cream (my favourite), huge fruit scones with peach & amaretto jam and cream, and lastly a rich chocolate cake with chocolate ganache.

We left with very full bellies, all going home for a nap!

There will be more tea parties in the future so keep an eye on the Secluded Tea blog for dates, each one will be in a secret location!

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Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Ring a Week - 1, 2 & 3

I started a new project in the New Year, which I am pleased to say I am keeping up with.
I very much admired the Ring a Day project that lots of people undertook last year but it was a bit much for me, so when Ring a Week came along it was perfect!

I am looking to perfect my ring making skills as they sell well in my shops, and I like making something different. So far I have submitted a little daisy ring, some copper stacks and this week a moonstone bezel set ring.

My bezel setting is very amateur (and I used a premade bezel cup) but I love the look of the ring, I have also been able to practise using thicker silver wire which I have had trouble with before. Watch this space for wider silver rings in different finishes.

I will be blogging weekly my Ring a Week submissions, some of them will pop up in my shops too.

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Monday, 24 January 2011

My First Macarons & Using Up Your Egg Yolks Lemon Curd

Hurray some food blogging!

I've been a bit remiss since Christmas (ok way before then) even though I've been baking lots of things and making lots of things.

Macarons have been on my lists for ages and ages, our last house had the worse oven on the planet, it couldn't even cook a baked potato evenly so I wasn't trusting it with macarons. Since we have moved we have a nice shiny electric oven which keeps the temperature even and cooks things nice and quickly. I can now bake a whole cake in less than an hour and without checking it every 2 minutes impatiently.

This also means I can now make meringues, lemon meringue pie specifically! Yum.

I used the recipe over on The Catty Life, she embued me with confidence that I Can Do It. Macrons scared me a bit, maybe I read too much into them and worried about how hard they would be.

I didn't age my egg whites, like you should, because I forgot. I still got the taste of macarons and the airy inside, but I didn't get the longer for 'feet' and a thicker shell. You can make macarons with un-aged egg whites but they won't be as pretty!

Vanilla Macarons with Lemon Curd Filling 
recipe from the catty life 

100g ground almonds
200g caster or icing sugar (I used caster which was fine)
50g caster sugar
3 egg whites - preferably aged by leaving them in a bowl at room temperature for 24 hours.
squirt of vanilla extract

Whip your egg whites still they start to foam/turn white, then add in the 50g of caster sugar slowly to combine. Whisk further til you the eggs form stiff peaks, add in the vanilla extract.
Combine the almonds and the 200g of sugar in a bowl, mix, then carefully fold them in to the meringue mix, adding it in quarters til combined.
Using a piping bag dot the mixture on to a lined baking tray, mine were about 1.5 inches wide, they don't spread too much in the oven.
Leave for 30 minutes to an hour til the mixture sets a little, it should form a 'shell' on the top.
Bake at 150 degrees celsius for 15 minutes. Keep checking, the recipe says 10 minutes but I needed a bit longer.

Remove when cool by sliding a knife under each macaron.
Sandwich with lemon curd, eat four in a row like I did.

Lemon Curd
This lemon curd is great because you can use up your leftover egg yolks from the macarons.

3 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
juice and zest of one lemon
50 grams of unsalted butter, cubed

Beat the egg yolks and caster sugar in a heatproof bowl using an electric whisk til the sugar has dissolved.
Then place the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, add in the lemon juice and zest plus the butter. Whisk to melt the butter, the eggs should start to thicken, keep whisking. Keep an eye on the heat as you don't want the eggs to scramble. The mixture is done when it coats the back of a wooden spoon - it will thicken further as it cools.
Immediately pour into hot sterilised jars (this actually makes one jar) and seal. Keeps for 2 weeks in the fridge, after opening.

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Friday, 21 January 2011

Super Duper Sale - 30% off!

Hello lovely blog readers!

Because I am a) extremely generous and b) surrounded by beads I am having a little sale to clearout some of my stock - ready for lots of fresh lovely things for the New Year (is it still the 'new year' or are we over that already?).

So for one day only I am having 30% off in my whole Etsy shop, even on sale items (making them 60% off overall).

Use the coupon code 'JAN21' when you checkout for an immediate discount.

Happy Weekend Everyone!


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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

sparkles for valentines

Just popping along to say I have lots of goodies for Valentines day in my shop, I hope you find some a wonderful gift for the one you love.

Available on Etsy, Folksy, Dawanda and selected items on All Things Original.
Please order by the 11th February if you are in the U.K.


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Photographing in Artificial Light

I have always been a very very firm believer in natural light being the best light to photograph jewellery in, always saying never use artificial light. I have been very frustrated with the nights being dark so early so I have only had time to photograph early in the morning before work (which is sometimes dark too, so not always!) or at weekends - which kind of puts a dampner on listing new things in my shop.

I made these copper stacking rings over the weekend and time escaped me and I didn't photograph them. After asking on Twitter (I think it is called crowdsourcing, no?) a lot of people actually took photos using artificial light and making it work by using the white balance. So I popped up my light tent and placed it quite close to one of the wall lights in the living room, standard yellow bulbs. Adjusted the white balance and actually it worked really well!

The light was clean and white like daylight, only a hint of yellow which would be removed in photo editing.
I think you need a light tent here as it diffuses the light so it isn't so sharp, so you don't get harsh shadows or too much yellow.

I'm really pleased with how these came out, I think I will use daylight wherever possible but this technique will definitely see me well in the winter months.

The rings will be available in my shops very soon!

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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

new workspace

One of the things I was really looking forward to about our new house was having a whole room dedicated to jewellery making. Previously I was squished in the corner of the guest room with minimal desk space and a great big double bed in the way.

Now I have a lovely double aspect room to myself with two desks - one for shipping and one for making a mess! And a little corner at the back for storing shipping supplies and other bits and bobs (like my ever growing fabric stash).

I'm much more productive already and I can ship my orders out in a more organised way. I have decorated it a little but I am planning on add lots of prints and art from my favourite artists and making some more bunting for the other window (which is out of shot).

I hope you have enjoyed having a peek at my new space, I always love to see others too - what is yours like?

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Tuesday, 4 January 2011

January Sale - 30% off

I'm having a sale over on Etsy! 30% off selected jewellery and free shipping on everything too. Sale starts from $11/£7 (give or take a few cents/pence!).
Happy Shopping, and Happy New Year! :)


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Saturday, 1 January 2011

The Obligatory Round Up - 2010

My google reader is full to the brim of round ups so I thought I'd join in with a foodie one. I've blogged more about food this year than ever before and I have discovered some really yummy recipes in 2010.

These are my favourites, I hope you try them in 2011 if you haven't already.

Bacon Brownies
Don't knock 'em til you've tried them! They are seriously good, and we all know salt and sweet is all the rage.

Courgette & Squash Blossom Pizza
(and the ultimate pizza dough)
2010 was the year I perfected pizza dough! This soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside pizza base is inspired by No Knead Bread, effortless to make and bakes up beautifully every time. We feasted on squash blossoms on pizza this summer, I can't wait for the summer to roll around again so we can enjoy this seasonal treat.

Lots of people made these after I blogged which tells you how good this recipe is. Four ingredients and cookies in less than half an hour. These are perfect for a quick cookie fix. 

Cacio e Pepe
A simple pasta recipe which tastes amazing, this was on my 'to make' list for a while. Authentic, simple and yummy.

I've never made potato gnocchi since I found this recipe. Makes beautiful pillowy gnocchi with a creamy flavour without the hassle of watery potatoes. And the pesto goes well with all kinds of pasta, not just gnocchi.

And a 2010 round up wouldn't be complete without a mention of our fabulous meal at Le Gavroche. Find a special day (or just any day) and go - book a table for 2011!! I want to go again, but we are setting our sights on other 'must eat' places instead - maybe the Waterside or The Ledbury this year.

Happy New Year!
Thank you for reading and cooking my recipes in 2010, i'll be back with something new and yummy soon.


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