• Posted on May 22, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    We've had a wonderful time eating lots of juicy tomatoes for British Tomato Week so we thought it would be fitting to get ready for the weekend with a delicious recipe from Jenny Linford's lovely book, The Tomato Basket. This recipe is light, simple and great for sharing - perfect for a picnic over the bank holiday! Have a brilliant weekend folks.

    Summer Tomato Tart

    summer tomato tart

    Gloriously simple to make, this Mediterranean-flavoured tart tastes as good as it looks. If available, use different coloured tomatoes for the topping for extra visual appeal. Serve for a light meal accompanied by a crisp green side salad.

    300 g/10 oz. puff pastry dough

    400 g/1 lb. ripe tomatoes

    2 tablespoons black olive tapenade

    salt and freshly ground black pepper

    a handful of fresh basil leaves, to garnish

    a baking sheet, greased

    Serves 6


    On a lightly floured surface, thinly roll out the puff pastry to form a circle about 27 cm/11 in. in diameter. Chill the pastry circle in the fridge for 30 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.

    Cut the tomatoes into 0.5-cm/3 /16-in. thick slices.

    Place the chilled pastry circle on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the olive tapenade evenly over the pastry, leaving a 2-cm/3 /4-in. rim around the edge. Arrange the tomato slices in spiraling rings over the tapenade, overlapping them slightly.

    Season with a little salt and pepper, bearing in mind the saltiness of the tapenade.

    Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 150°C (300°F) Gas 2 and bake for a further 1 hour, until the pastry is crisp and golden-brown and the tomatoes are cooked through.

    Serve either warm from the oven or at room temperature, garnished with basil leaves.

    The Tomato Basket by Jenny Linford is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with savoury, picnic, recipe for the weekend, vegetarian, tomato, Jenny Linford, quick, 2015

  • Posted on May 22, 2015

    Win a cake stand from Bombay Duck!

    Everyone loves a bit of bank holiday baking and this weekend we're in the mood for some truly beautiful cakes! Luckily for you guys, the lovely people at Bombay Duck were so thrilled to have their products featured in Torie Jayne's Stylish Home Sewing that they have sent us a couple of cake stands to giveaway, perfect to display your bakes and keep them fresh for extra yumminess!

    The stand is a pretty mint green colour with fancy scalloped edging and a glass dome lid - just look how great it looks in Torie's pretty pastel kitchen (above)! In the book, learn how to make the oven glove, apron, bread bag and bowl, tea towels, pot holder and many more sewed items to accessories your home.

    If you're feeling inspired to make or bake, then enter the competition below for a chance to win.... Two lucky winners will be announced on Tuesday 26th May. Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    This post was posted in Competitions, Featured, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, baking, fabric, sewing, 2015, Torie Jayne

  • Posted on May 21, 2015

    Make the most of your photos

    It’s funny, just about everything takes a photo these days, be it your phone, your tablet, your laptop, even some games consoles. And yet, with digital photography we are printing fewer and fewer photos and they languish on a hard drive somewhere. One of our new craft books, Photo Art by Ellie Laycock, is here to help you make the most of your photos – heaps of projects which are certainly inspiring us to print out some of our instagram snaps and get creative. This Polaroid Hanging Frame is an ideal bank holiday project, and you can change it up as often as you like to keep your new favourite photos on display.

    Polaroid Hanging Frame

    Turn a picture frame into a versatile hanging photo display by clipping your favorite Polaroid or Instagram prints onto strung wires. It’s simple to swap new favorites in and out when you fancy a change. Use jazzy clips or mini pegs to hold the photos and layer as many as you wish for a totally unique and personalized display.

    You will need

    • 9 Polaroids (or Instagram prints)
    • Photo frame, 16 x 20 in. (40 x 50 cm)
    • Craft wire
    • 9 decorative paperclips or mini pegs
    • Pencil
    • Staple gun and staples, or eye hooks
    • Wire cutters or pliers with a wire cutter center

    Optional (if printing your own photos)

    • Printer
    • Glossy photo paper, 6 x 4 in. (15 x 10 cm)
    • Scissors

    1 Collect your Polaroids together or print out your Instagram shots. If you have neither, don’t panic: there are various apps and online resources that you can use to create Polaroid-style images from your photos. Print your photos out sheets of 6 x 4-in. (15 x 10-cm) glossy photo paper at high print quality. Trim the excess paper off up to the edge of the “Polaroid” borders.

    2 Remove the back panel of the frame, any paper inside, and the glass or Perspex, leaving you with just the frame. If there are any metal pieces or nails in the frame that are designed to bend and hold the back on, remove those, too.

    3 Turn the frame over and lay it on a work surface in the portrait orientation. Down one side, make pencil marks 11⁄4 in. (3 cm), 8 in. (20 cm), and 14 in. (36 cm) down from the top edge of the aperture. Repeat on the other side of the frame. Line up the staple gun so that the top of the staple is on the first mark, and fire a staple into the frame. Repeat at each marked point. (If your frame is soft wood and the staples go all the way in, screw in small eye hooks instead.)

    4 Thread the end of your wire through the staple and loop it around, keeping the wire at the top of the staple. Tie it off to secure and trim off the excess with wire cutters.

    5 Pull the wire gently across the frame and cut, leaving at least 4 in. (10 cm) excess to tie off at the other end. Thread the wire through the corresponding staple. To create tension, grip the end of the wire with the pliers and pull it taut, then lift the pliers to pull the wire back on itself to form a bend in the wire around the staple. Loop the wire around the staple a few times, then tie off and cut off any excess.

    6 Repeat steps 4 and 5 on the other two rows of staples.

    7 Thread three clips onto the top wire. Fix a Polaroid into each clip. Repeat for the remaining rows. Your frame is now ready to hang; alternatively, you can simply prop it up against the wall.

    Wire tension

    Keep equal tension across the three wires; if you’re pulling too tight on one, you’ll see the other one(s) go loose.

    Spacing out the Polaroids

    If you’re working with a different-sized frame, lay out your rows of Polaroids evenly, allowing for the clips, and mark where the wires should go on one side, then transpose those measurements to the other side.


    • You can use any size frame you like. Just lay the Polaroids over the top first to work out how many rows you need to string.
    • Don’t stop at just photos—you could add keepsakes to create a memory frame. Tickets and other paper ephemera would work well.
    • Super-size it to create a gallery space for your kids’ artwork.
    • This is a great way to store earrings, too!
    • Cover the back panel with decorative paper or collage and insert it into the frame to create a background for your photo display.

    Photo Art by Ellie Laycock is available here. Happy Crafting!

    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, UK, What's new and was tagged with handmade, photos, 2015, photography, mixed media

  • Posted on May 18, 2015

    Tomato Flavour Friends

    Happy Monday! Not something often said, but this Monday is different. This week is British Tomato Week, celebrating the best of British tomatoes, which are now bursting onto shelves around the country. And, really, who could be sad when faced with a lovely fresh tomato!  One of our recently-published foodie books is The Tomato Basket by Jenny Linford; this book is a veritable celebration of the humble tomato, packed with history, recipes, tips for growers, and loads more.

    So, we thought we’d share a few tomato-based goodies with you this week! Why not head over to our brand-new-and-improved Pinterest account where you’ll find a whole board dedicated to the tomato. We’ve also got a very tasty Recipe for the Weekend planned, but today we’re going to let Jenny tell you all about what flavours work well with tomato… Over to you Jenny!

    Tomato Flavour Friends

    The tomato’s remarkable success as a popular ingredient, widely used around the world, is in large part due to its inherent versatility. Its distinctive yet subtle flavour, combining refreshing acidity with sweetness, goes well with a wide range of ingredients, allowing it to be successfully partnered with them in many diverse dishes. Certain flavour combinations, it must be said, work especially well.

    When it comes to herbs that go well with tomatoes, basil leaps to mind as probably the best-known example. With good reason, as the fragrant clove-aniseed-mint notes in basil add a wonderful spicy touch to tomato’s bright, clean flavour. In Italian cuisine, where many recipes use the ripe, flavourful tomatoes that grow so abundantly in Italy, it is noticeable that several of them also feature fresh basil. Classically, of course, there is the salad of juicy, sliced tomatoes, dressed with good olive oil, perhaps enhanced by pieces of soft, moist mozzarella cheese, then topped with freshly torn basil leaves. Sicily’s supremely summery version of pesto combines sun-ripened tomatoes with almonds (which grow locally on the island), olive oil and basil. In Naples, pizza is traditionally made by smearing a thin, circular dough base with a tasty tomato sauce, baking it briefly in a hot wood-fired oven, and, for a final flourish, topping it with fresh basil leaves. Use basil to aromatise tomato-based dishes such as soups (hot or cold), sauces, salads, salsas or dressings. Do bear in mind, however, that basil quickly loses its aroma when cooked, so add it in towards the end of the cooking process to maximize its impact.

    Garlic and tomatoes are another much-loved flavour combination. With its pungent and powerful taste, garlic works well, rooting the tomato in savouriness. Garlic and onion, fried gently in olive oil until softened and mellow, forms the tasty foundation of many classic tomato dishes, such as a tomato sauce to serve with pasta or use on pizza. For a simple and effective way of using the two together, draw inspiration from Catalonia’s pa amb tomàquet. Served as a popular bar snack, this is made from slices of rough-textured country-style bread rubbed with raw garlic and then juicy fresh tomatoes, so that their juices infuse the bread, finished off with a sprinkling of good quality olive oil. Try Jenny's recipe here.

    Ginger is another fundamental flavouring that marries well with tomatoes. One only has to think of the many Indian tomato-based curries that begin by frying onion, garlic and ginger together. The two ingredients combine to be at once aromatic and refreshing, contrasting well with rich meat and poultry such as pork spare ribs, braising beef or duck.

    Just as herbs go well with tomatoes, so do spices, adding fragrance and perfume. Chillies and tomatoes, which both have their roots in Mexico, are another excellent partnership. Think of flavourful salsas, made from raw tomatoes, which are combined with refreshing citrus elements such as lime or lemon juice to give a tang, and chilli to give a piquant punch. Famous dishes including Singapore’s famous chilli crab or drinks like the Bloody Mary use the natural sweetness of tomatoes to mellow the hot chilli kick.

    Many salty ingredients work well with tomatoes. The complex saltiness of anchovies is a good example, adding deeper bass notes to tomato’s naturally delicate, acidic flavour. Use them to enrich tomato sauces, as with Italy’s gutsy puttanesca sauce or fry them gently in oil until they ‘melt’ before adding tomatoes for hearty stews or braises. Olives work  well with tomatoes too; their umami richness contrasts nicely with the freshness of tomato in dishes such as crostini or tarts made with tapenade and tomatoes. Bacon, ham, pancetta and guanciale, again from the same salty umami flavour family, offer much scope for tasty meals, whether in a robust all’Amatriciana sauce or as part of a savoury breakfast, with fried tomatoes nestling alongside slices of ham or bacon.

    The tomato’s ability to cut through rich ingredients with a zip of acidity makes it an excellent partner with cheese and rich dairy products – try cheese and tomato flans, pasta bakes, toasties or cheese-filled pancakes in a tomato sauce. Vice-versa, a spoonful of double/heavy cream, crème fraîche or natural yogurt stirred into tomato-based dishes such as soups or tomato sauce both enriches and contrasts. For similar reasons, tomatoes are an excellent ingredient to use with pulses, adding a refreshing lift to their characteristic earthy taste. The happy combination can be found around the world, in dishes such as Indian tarka dal, Italian lentil bakes and America’s Boston baked beans.


    So many excellent ideas, we’re feeling very inspired and can’t wait to get cooking!

    Extract from The Tomato Basket by Jenny Linford. The book is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with salad, savoury, event, flavour, vegetarian, tomato, Jenny Linford, 2015, healthy

  • Posted on May 15, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    Happy Friday everyone! There was much excitement in the office when it was announced earlier this week that Jordan Bourke’s second book, The Natural Food Kitchen is shortlisted for the Miriam Polunin Award for Best Work on Healthy Eating in the Guild of Food Writers Awards. We are totally chuffed for Jordan and this well-deserved recognition, so to celebrate we are sharing his tastebud-tingling tacos with you!


    Beef Tacos with avocado & smoked paprika aioli

    They are delicious served soft, as I have done here, or if you want them crispy you can fry them in a little oil. This is the ultimate sharing dish, everything on the table with all the toppings ready to go. Feel free to add in any extra toppings that you particularly like.

    For the mayonnaise:

    2 egg yolks

    3 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

    1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

    large pinch of sea salt

    300 ml/1¼ cups good quality extra virgin olive oil and 300 ml/ 1¼ cups sunflower oil,mixed together

    ½ teaspoon smoked/ Spanish paprika

    For the filling:

    225 g/8 oz. sirloin/New York strip steak, removed from fridge 20 minutes before cooking

    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    olive oil

    ½ a red onion, thinly sliced

    1 large or 2–3 small corn tortillas per person

    1 head of baby gem/romaine lettuce

    1 avocado, stoned/ pitted, peeled and sliced

    small handful of coriander/cilantro leaves

    1 lime, cut into wedges

    Serves 2

    To make the mayonnaise, you can use a food processor or whisk it by hand. Either way start off with all the ingredients in a bowl, apart from the oil. As you start to process/whisk, very slowly feed in the oil a little at a time until the mixture begins to emulsify and come together. Once this happens you can add the oil in a bit faster, but don’t be tempted to pour it in too quickly or it will split.

    Have a little cup of boiling water ready in case this happens, as a few drops added in when it is looking like it might split usually brings it back together. When all the oil is blended in, taste, and if necessary, adjust the seasoning with a little more lemon juice and salt. Mix in the smoked/Spanish paprika and cover and refrigerate until needed.

    Set a grill pan over a high heat.

    Drizzle a little oil over both sides of the steak and season with salt and pepper. When the pan is smoking hot, add the steak. For a steak about 2 cm/1 inch thick, fry for 2 minutes on each side for medium-rare, or longer if you prefer your steak well done.

    Remove the steak from the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

    Meanwhile, clean out the pan with paper towels, but be careful as it will still be hot. Add in the sliced onion and cook for a few minutes to soften.

    Once the steak has rested, slice into thin strips at an angle.

    In a clean dry frying pan/skillet heat the corn tortillas for about 30 seconds on each side to warm through. To serve, place a couple of leaves of the lettuce on the tortillas, and top with the strips of steak, avocado, red onion, coriander/ cilantro leaves and the aïoli dolloped over. Serve with the lime wedges to squeeze over.

    Because we were excited, and excitement makes us altruistic, subscribers to The Pantry got this recipe early. If you’re not subscribed but don’t want to miss out on exclusive recipes, author news and other really cool stuff you might want to head on over here and click subscribe. Go on, you know you want to!

    The Natural Food Kitchen by Jordan Bourke is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK and was tagged with Jordan Bourke, savoury, recipe for the weekend, beef, Mexican, Natural Food Kitchen, 2015, healthy, awards

  • Posted on May 13, 2015

    World Cocktail Day

    Happy World Cocktail Day everyone! We’ve got lots of ideas of how to make the most of it; why not pop over to our new Drinks board on Pinterest and check out some of the recipes there?
    We’re pretty excited about our latest cocktail book, Wild Cocktails from the Midnight Apothecary by Lottie Muir. Lottie runs The Midnight Apothecary at the Brunel Museum during the summer, and this beautiful book has got us super excited to get out foraging this year and see how we can take our cocktails up a notch! So to celebrate World Cocktail Day in style we thought we’d share this delicious recipe…cheers!

    Strawberry and Basil Gimlet
    Strawberries and basil (Ocimum basilicum) are a delicious combination, and this simple cocktail allows them to take center stage. The grind of black pepper draws out the flavor of the strawberries, and put together with the aromatic, sweet, earthy basil, you’ll have a smile on your face.
    Serves 1Ingredients:
    3 large strawberries
    ½ oz (15ml) agave nectar
    4 basil leaves
    2oz (60ml) gin
    ½ oz (15ml) freshly squeezed lime juice

    Grind of coarse ground black pepper

    Tools: Cocktail shaker with strainer, tea strainer
    Glass: Martini/wine
    Ice: cubes
    Garnish: Strawbery slice, large basil leaf

    Put the strawberries and agave nectar in the cocktail shaker, and muddle thoroughly.
    Smack the basil leaves between your palms to release the essential oils and drop in the shaker. Add the remaining ingredients. Fill the shaker two-thirds full with ice, cover, and shake hard for 20 seconds. Double-strain the mixture by pouring it through the tea strainer, into the glass. Garnish with the strawberry slice and basil leaf.

    Wild Cocktails from the Midnight Apothecary by Lottie Muir is available here

    Have a great day everyone, whether you celebrate with a cocktail or not! Cheers!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with drinks, cocktail, quick, gin, 2015, Wild Cocktails

  • Posted on May 11, 2015

    We're going to be at The Handmade Fair!

    We are so excited to be exhibiting at The Handmade Fair this September and will be bringing a beautiful collection of craft and interiors books for you to enjoy! Will we be seeing you there?

    The Handmade Fair logo

    Presented by Kirstie Allsopp and held in the stunning garden setting of Hampton Court Palace, you won't want to miss this year's Handmade Fair, 18th - 20th September (and that's before we've even mentioned the crafty stuff!). There will be an excellent collection of craft supplies and handmade gifts (not to mention a few lovely looking books!), inspirations experts for teaching in the workshops (including our author, Annie Sloan), and Kirstie demonstrating and speaking with top makers, designers and crafts people.


    We visited the fair last year to say hello to a few of our wonderful craft authors and check out the stands and workshops. While we remember it being absolutely baking hot (we went on the Friday afternoon, does anyone else recall how superbly sunny it was?!), we also remember a happy crafty atmosphere and loads of ideas, inspiration and beautiful handmade things. Needless to say, we couldn't wait to get involved this year and we have some exciting plans for our stand...

    Anyway, we've got a few months between now and then to get everything planned and packed up for the fair, so we really hope that you can make it. You can book tickets for any of the three days here and keep an eye on our Handmade Fair profile for more exclusive news about our stand.

    Happy crafting folk!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, UK and was tagged with handmade, event, 2015, the handmade fair

  • Posted on May 8, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    With May, two of our favourite fruit and vegetables come into season: Asparagus and Rhubarb. The seasons are short so we are determined to make the most of them whilst we can, and our new favourite weekend brunch is asparagus dipped in a perfectly boiled egg. Today our plans are rhubarb-based: this beautiful Rhubarb Cloud Pie, taken from Sweetie Pie by Hannah Miles. We reckon this will impress all your dinner party pals on Saturday night. Or the perfect post-Sunday lunch dessert. Or mid-morning/afternoon/night snack…you know, whenever…

    Rhubarb cloud pie by Hannah Miles

    Rhubarb cloud pie

    There are many steps to this pie, but it is definitely worth trying. With creamy custard, sweet meringue, buttery base and tangy rhubarb, this is a decadent dessert.


    3 sticks rhubarb

    a few drops pink food colouring

    freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

    1 tablespoon caster/granulated sugar


    200 g/7 oz. custard creams/vanilla sandwich cookies

    100 g/7 tablespoons butter, melted


    4 egg whites

    1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

    250 g/11/4 cups caster/granulated sugar


    4 egg yolks

    50 g/1/4 cup caster/granulated sugar

    1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    250 ml/generous 1 cup double/heavy cream


    400 g/14 oz. rhubarb

    1 tablespoon caster/granulated sugar

    300 ml/11/4 cup double/heavy cream, whipped

    silicone mat

    23-cm/9-in. round, springform

    cake pan, greased and lined

    Serves 8

    Begin by preparing the rhubarb tuiles, as they need to dry overnight.

    Trim the ends of the rhubarb and peel into long thin strips using a swivel peeler. Place the strips of rhubarb in a large saucepan with just enough water to cover and add the food colouring, lemon juice and sugar. Simmer for 2–3 minutes, until just soft. Put the rhubarb onto a silicone mat and twist into pretty shapes. Leave in a warm place to dry overnight, until the rhubarb is crisp. Store carefully in an airtight container.

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

    To make the topping, peel and chop the rhubarb into 5-cm/2-in. lengths. Place in an ovenproof dish, add the sugar and 2 tablespoons water, and toss together to coat. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft but still holding its shape. Drain away any liquid and set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C (275°F) Gas 1.

    For the base, blitz the cookies to fine crumbs in a food processor or place in a clean plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin. Add the melted butter and blitz again so that all the crumbs are coated. Using the back of a spoon, press the crumb mixture into the base of the prepared pan. Wrap the bottom and sides of the pan in foil to stop the butter leaking out.

    For the meringue shell, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Sprinkle over the cream of tartar and, while whisking, add the sugar, a spoonful at a time, until you have a smooth glossy meringue. Spoon the meringue onto the cookie crumb base and, using a spatula, spread it across the base and up the sides to form a case to hold the custard filling.

    For the custard, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick and creamy. Heat the vanilla and cream in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the egg mixture, whisking all the time. Return the custard to the saucepan and cook over a gentle heat, whisking constantly, until it starts to thicken. If the mixture starts to curdle, pass it through a sieve/strainer. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for a few minutes.

    Pour the custard into the meringue shell and bake for 11⁄2-2 hours, until the meringue is crisp and the custard is set but still wobbly in the centre. Slide a knife around the sides of the pan and let cool in the pan.

    Remove the sides of the pan and place the pie on a serving plate, removing the lining paper. Place the cooled baked rhubarb on top of the custard. Spoon over the whipped cream and top with the rhubarb tuiles. Serve immediately. Any uneaten pie can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, but this pie is best eaten on the day it is made.

    For more delicious dessert pies, tarts and flans, check out the Sweetie Pie by Hannah Miles!


    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with baking, Hannah Miles, recipe for the weekend, dessert, sweet, 2015, seasonal eating

  • Posted on May 5, 2015

    Beat the Bank Holiday Blues with Letter Art!

    Is it Tuesday already? We hope you all had a super weekend, but we just can’t believe how quickly the bank holiday has flown by and how many emails were sat waiting when we got into the office this morning! Amongst the mail mayhem however, we discovered a great email from Hobbycraft with ideas for creating decorative letters… and instantly we were feeling calm and crafty! While we love Hobbycraft’s colourful suggestions, our instinctive response was to turn one of our favourite books from Clare Youngs (who are we kidding, we love them all!) for even more Letter Art inspiration! Needless to say, here’s a project from the book to beat your back-to-work-after-the-bank-holiday blues…

    Foamboard Lollipop Letters

    Use colorful scraps of wallpaper and pages from old books to create a collection of letters with a lovely vintage appeal. The thin sticks are available from craft stores. Cut them to different lengths to make a charming display for a shelf in a child’s bedroom.

    Foamboard Lollipop Letters - O


    • Letter template

    • Plain or graph paper

    • Ruler

    • Pencil

    • Tracing paper

    • Masking tape

    • Craft knife

    • Cutting mat

    • Foamboard measuring approximately 8¼ x 10¼in. (21 x 26 cm) per letter

    • Washi tape

    • Scissors

    • Craft glue

    • Patterned paper

    • Thin wooden sticks 1/8 –¼ in. (3–5 mm) thick and 8–12 in. (20–30 cm) long per letter

    • Block of wood measuring approximately 4½ x 1½ x 1 in. (11 x 4 x 3 cm)

    • Pages from old books

    • Drill

    • Awl

    Foamboard Lollipop Letters Step 1

    1. Choose your letter from the templates in the book (or create your own) and enlarge it to the right size, either by using a photocopier or scaling the letter up on graph paper. I made mine approximately 8 in. (20 cm) in height. Trace out the letter and transfer it onto a piece of foamboard (see Tracing technique below). Protecting your work surface with a cutting mat, cut out the shape using a craft knife and a ruler for any straight edges.

    Foamboard Lollipop Letters Step 2

    2. Line the outside edges of the letter with strips of washi tape. When lining a curved edge, use scissors to make small snips into the overlapping tape—every ¼ in. (5 mm), or so—to enable you to fit the tape neatly around the curve.

    Foamboard Lollipop Letters Step 3

    3. Spread glue all over the front of the letter shape and place a piece of patterned paper, right side up, over the top. Smooth out and press down all over. Allow the glue to dry before using a craft knife to cut off any overlapping paper. You’ll find this easier to do if you place your letter face down on your cutting mat. Repeat on the other side of the letter, using a different paper if you like, so that both sides are covered.

    Foamboard Lollipop Letters Step 4

    4. Cut a length of stick. Cut a strip of washi tape to the same length and lay it down on your work surface, sticky side up. Place the stick on the tape and wrap the tape around the stick neatly, to cover it.

    Foamboard Lollipop Letters Step 5

    5. To cover the block of wood, center it on a page taken from an old book. Draw around the base. Remove the block and draw a border around your drawn outline. It needs to be the same depth as the sides of the block. Use a pencil and a ruler to mark cutting guides as shown. Cut along these guides to make four flaps.

    Foamboard Lollipop Letters Step 6

    6. Spread glue all over the wrong side of the paper and place the block back in position. Wrap the two short sides of the block first, sticking the paper flaps to the long sides of the block. Then wrap the two long sides.

    Foamboard Lollipop Letters Step 7

    7. Drill a hole in the center of the block of wood, that is equal to the width of the stick. Use an awl to make a hole the same size in the foamboard at the base of the letter.

    Foamboard Lollipop Letters Step 8

    8. Push the stick into the wooden base and then push the letter onto the opposite end of the stick.

     Foamboard Lollipop Letters Base Block


    For many projects you need to transfer the template onto paper or card stock (card), using tracing paper. Place a sheet of tracing paper over the template and secure with some masking tape. Trace the lines with a hard 4 (2H) pencil, then turn the tracing paper over and go over the lines again on the reverse with a softer pencil, such as a 2 (HB). Now turn the tracing paper over again and place it in position on your chosen paper or card stock (card). Go over all the lines carefully with the 4 (2H) pencil, and then remove the tracing paper. This will give you a nice, clear outline.

    Letter Art by Clare Youngs

    For more creative ideas to decorate your home, Letter Art by Clare Youngs is available here.

    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK and was tagged with homemade, Clare Youngs, handmade, decorating, 2014, project

  • Posted on May 1, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend: Bank Holiday edition!

    Ah May, we welcome you with open arms. April might be the cruelest month, but you are soothing with your double bank holidays! The first is this weekend, and we are staunchly ignoring the weather forecast and planning our first BBQ of the season. We recently published 101 BBQ and Grill Recipes, compiled by Dan Vaux-Nobes, which contains literally all of the BBQ recipes you could ever possibly need. We promise. We’ve picked a wonderfully seasonal lamb recipe, guaranteed to set your BBQ stakes very high for the rest of the summer! Mint and Lemon Thyme Lamb Kebabs

    Mint and lemon thyme lamb kebabs with pickled cucumber

    This is a cracking recipe, using lamb shoulder (leg works well too), served with pickled cucumber. If you’re feeling organic and you’re lucky enough to have a flourishing rosemary bush, you can use the branches for skewers.

    pickled cucumber

    1lb. / 500 g pickling cucumbers

    1 tablespoon Kosher (table) salt

    2 teaspoons brown sugar

    ½ teaspoon black peppercorns

    ½ teaspoon pink peppercorns

    1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

    4 fresh bay leaves

    1½ cups / 350 ml apple cider vinegar

    1 sterilized litre glass jar with lid


    ½ preserved lemon, finely chopped

    1 tablespoon dried mint

    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    fresh thyme leaves

    1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

    ¼ cup / 60 ml extra virgin olive oil

    freshly squeezed juice and grated

    zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

    sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper


    1½ lb. / 750 g lamb shoulder

    1 lemon

    6 fresh bay leaves

    coarsely ground black pepper

    serves 6

    For the pickled cucumber, in a nonreactive pan add the salt, sugar, peppercorns, mustard seeds, bay leaves, cider vinegar, and ¼ cup / 60 ml water. Bring to a boil over a medium–high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the salt and sugar have dissolved.

    Cut the cucumbers into spears and pack them into the glass jar. Pour the hot pickling juice over the cucumbers and fill to the top. Screw the lid on and let cool completely before placing in the refrigerator. They will keep for 2 weeks.

    For the rub, put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Season to taste with salt and pepper and use immediately.

    Rinse the lamb under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels (kitchen paper). Cut the lamb into 1¼-inch (3-cm) cubes and put in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the rub over the lamb and toss to coat evenly. Season with cracked black pepper. (The salt from the preserved lemon should be enough to season.) Cover and refrigerate for 8–24 hours.

    Slice the lemon in half, then cut each half into half moons. Remove the lamb from the fridge and, while still cold, thread onto pre-soaked wooden skewers or rosemary branches, along with the bay leaves and lemon slices. Cover the skewers and allow to come to room temperature.

    On a medium–high grill/barbecue, cook the lamb skewers for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and turn. Cook for a further 6–8 minutes, turning frequently to make sure all the sides are brown and crispy. If you prefer your meat well done, continue to cook the skewers to your preference.

    Serve with the pickled cucumber.

    101 BBQ and Grill Recipes by Dan Vaux-Nobes is available here.

    Happy grilling chaps!

    This post was posted in News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with savoury, bank holiday, bbq, recipe for the weekend, grill, 2015, lamb

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