c February 2015 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

Sew a Little Secret - Sewing Project Review

I have really enjoyed finding my sewing mojo, though I am not confident in coming up with design and inspiration ideas for my own sewing projects. If you are like me then fear not I have just the answer #SewaLittleSecret from Owl and Sewing Cat.

Sew a Little Secret Sewing Project
Sew a Little Secret Sewing Project

Sew a Little Secret is a mail order Sewing project delivered to your door. It includes all the fabric, ribbon, thread, interfacing, pattern and full instructions required to complete a sewing project. Owl and Sewing Cat are based in Eastbourne and I am based in Shropshire, yet I felt as though they were right on my doorstep.

Sew a Little Secret Sewing kit
Sewing Kit with full instructions

Everything arrived all neatly packaged in a cardboard tube. The instructions were very clear and easy to follow, including photographs so you can be sure you are doing everything correctly. The only equipment you will need is a tape measure, some pins, a pair of scissors and of course a sewing machine and iron for pressing your finished project.

Easy to make sewing kit
An easy to follow sewing kit #SewaLittleSecret

The Sew a Little Secret sewing project I received created a hanging organiser, a beginner’s level project. I think you will agree the choice of fabric and colour is fabulous and it looks great too. I thoroughly enjoyed making my secret project a Hanging Organiser, so much so I have dropped major hints that I would like another Sew a Little Secret sewing project for my birthday in April. I loved the surprise of not knowing what I was going to make, what secret project awaited me.

Making a Hanging Organiser
So pleased with my Hanging Organiser
Sewing a Hanging Organiser
Sewing a Hanging Organiser

You can buy your own Sew a Little Secret kit, you can choose a one off sewing kit for £20.95 choosing either beginner or advanced level, this includes postage. Or a six month subscription for £18.95 per month or a one of payment of £99. I think this is really good value for money. By the time you have purchased fabric, a pattern and all the extras required you will certainly have spent more then £20.

Making a Hanging Organiser
Fabulous fabrics for the Hanging Organiser

I am so envious of those of you that live within visiting range of Owl and Sewing Cat, I fear it would become one of my favourite shops to visit, surrounded by fabric, buttons and ribbons – sewing heaven!

Disclosure - I was sent a Sew a Little Secret project for the purposes of review.
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Sticky Ginger Cake Recipe

This recipe for Sticky Ginger Cake was easy to follow and most successful. I have received a request for the last few years to bake a Ginger Cake for my uncle's birthday, and this was his lucky year. I relied on family feedback as I am not a lover of ginger myself, and was reliable informed it was a most delicious moist slice of cake with a good balance of gingerness to it. 
Sticky Ginger Cake Recipe

Recipe Sticky Ginger Cake

  • bowl or electric food mixer
  • scales  
  • 2 lb/2 pint loaf tin  
  • baking parchment/ loaf tin liner
  • cooling rack
  • measuring jug
  • sieve
  • measuring spoons
  • wooden spoon
  • chopping board
  • small knife

makes 1 loaf cake - 8 to 10 slices

175g plain white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
175ml sunflower oil
85g dark muscovado sugar
85g golden syrup
3 eggs
3 pieces of stem ginger on syrup, drained and finely chopped
2 tablespoon of the syrup from the jar of stem ginger
optional sliced stem ginger to decorate cake

Sticky Ginger Cake Recipe
Sticky Ginger Cake Recipe
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C / Gas Mark 4
  • Line the 2lb loaf tin, I prefer to use a loaf tin liner
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and ground ginger into a bowl.
  • Add the oil, sugar, golden syrup and eggs, beat them until you have a smooth batter. I used my K Mix and the K attachment.
  • Add the chopped ginger and mix briefly.
  • Pour into a lined loaf tin.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. It should be well risen and firm, check with a skewer to see if it comes out clean. The cake will have a very dark colour, this is normal.
  • Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes, then remove and place on a wire cooling rack until cool. 
  • Before serving brush the top of the cake with the ginger syrup and decorate with sliced ginger. 

Slice the Sticky Ginger Cake Cake to serve, you should get 8 to 10 slices.  The jar of stem ginger in syrup I bought is sufficient to make another cake, just as well it tasted delicious.

This recipe was taken the Marks and Spencers recipe book 1 mix, 100 cakes.

Other recipes you may like to try:-
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The Wrapper Review and Giveaway (Closed)

I have been pleasantly surprised this week by a piece of plastic lined gingham fabric, a simple idea with a practical function. The Wrapper is a reusable sandwich wrap, that keeps your sandwich or food fresh and securely wrapped and sealed. 
The Wrapper a reusable sandwich wrapper
The Wrapper a reusable sandwich wrapper

I have been using The Wrapper for the last week and been most impressed, the plastic lined fabric once folded around your sandwich fastens securely with a velcro fastening. I often end up eating my sandwich at my desk at work and found using The Wrapper most practical, if folded out and protected my work area capturing any crumbs.  It kept my sandwich fresh and moist. There was room enough for my fruit and a slice of cake, a picnic at my desk. This stylish, functional and re-usable alternative to a plastic lunch bag was spotted by my colleague who was most interested. Once lunch was finished a quick wipe over the plastic lining and The Wrapper was ready for reuse. There is even an area for you to write your name on.

The Wrapper a reusable sandwich wrapper
Place sandwich on reusable sandwich wrapper
The Wrapper a reusable sandwich wrapper
Fold around your sandwich with the
reusable sandwich wrapper
The Wrapper costs £5.50 each, is a reusable product made in Scotland and comes in a selection of fabulous fabric designs. I think this is a great product and will continue to use it, I feel like I am taking a treat from my craft room to work each day, I love the pink gingham design.

The Wrapper a reusable sandwich wrapper
Sandwich all wrapped and ready for work


Wrap-it are offering two of my blog readers the chance to #win there choice of The Wrapper.  

How to enter
To be in with a chance of winning this lovely prize confirm your entry using the Rafflecopter widget, for extra entries complete the additional tasks. If you can not see the Rafflecopter widget below, you may need to refresh your page using F5. 

Remember if you enter the competition by tweeting be sure to include the link to your tweet. If any of the links are not working on the widget leave me a comment or tweet me.

Closes 28 February 2015. Winner must respond within ten days of being notified, after which time a new winner will be selected. UK entrants only. For Terms and Conditions click the link on the Rafflecopter widget.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I received The Wrapper for the purposes of this review.
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Heart Shaped Stained Glass Biscuit Recipe

home baked Valentine's Day biscuit to share with family, friends or a loved one. This heart shaped biscuit recipe is easy to make and children will love adding a boiled sweet and seeing its transformation into a stained glass window. This recipe made a lovely biscuit dough that was soft yet firm and rolled out easy without being too sticky.
Heart shaped stained glass cookies recipe Sweet Heart Cookies Recipe biscuits celebrate wedding favours cookies engagement valentines
Heart shaped stained glass biscuits
Recipe - Valentine's Day Heart Shaped Stained Glass Biscuits

  • bowl
  • Electric whisk
  • parchment paper
  • scales  
  • wooden spoon  
  • baking tray
  • rolling pin
  • heart shaped cookie cutters

makes 20 biscuits

100g muscovado sugar
150g  butter (softened)
1 egg beaten
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp mixed spice
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
red boiled sweets

Oven temp 180 degrees c / gas mark 4
Line your baking sheets
Boiled sweet biscuit recipe
Boiled sweet biscuit recipe
  • Beat together the sugar and butter using an electric whisk, until creamed and soft. Add the egg and whisk together.
  • Add in the flour, baking powder, mixed spice, salt and finally the vanilla extract. Using a wooden spoon mix together until you have a firm but slightly soft biscuit dough.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and using a rolling pin roll out until the dough is half an inch thick.
  • Cut out your heart shaped biscuit and place onto the lined baking sheet. Using the smaller cutter cut out your centre heart and place a boiled sweet into the space.
  • Bake for 17 minutes. Leave to cool on the tray for 10 minutes before peeling them of the parchment paper (the melted boiled sweet will be very hot) and placing them to finish cooling on a wire rack.
Best eaten within a few days, store in an air tight container. 
Heart shaped stained glass biscuits recipe Sweet Heart Cookies Recipe biscuits celebrate wedding favours cookies engagement valentines
Heart shaped stained glass biscuits
I have adapted this recipe from the BBC Food recipes site.

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Sweet Heart Cookies Recipe biscuits celebrate wedding favours cookies engagement valentines

Other recipes you may like to try:-
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Completed Cross-Stitch project - 18 years in the making!

Some 18 years ago I bought myself a cross-stitch kit to make spectacle case, and this week after all this time I finally completed it. This little project stored in a small plastic bag has followed me on three house moves, it has been picked up and given short spans of my attention then stored back in its plastic bag.  I did start the project not long after I bought it, but my interests changed and at that time I was not particularly confident at cross-stitch.  Fast forward to present day, my interest in sewing rekindled and my adjustments to my work life balance see me making the most of my leisure time.

Georgian stripe flower design Cross-Stitch
Cross-Stitch Spectacle Case
Georgian Stripe Cross-Stitch Kit
Georgian Stripe Cross-Stitch pattern
It is not perfect, I can see small mistakes from when I had first started the cross-stitch, but I am rather pleased. There were just five French Knots in the design and it took many attempts at completing them - those pesky French Knots! I do love the purple, green and gold colours. I am actually not all that sure whether I will use it to keep my glasses in it, but my mobile phone fits in it a treat. 

Cross-Stitch finishing off
Co-ordinated purple lining 

Cross-Stitch French Knots
Cross-Stitch French Knots
Georgian stripe flower design Cross-Stitch
Georgian stripe flower design Cross-Stitch
So do not give up on a sewing or craft project that you may have fallen out of love with, I am sure like me you will get there eventually.  
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National Nest Box Week 14 to 21 February - join in with the Nest Box Challenge

There is nothing quite like watching a pair of birds flying in and out of a nest box, busily gathering materials to build a nest to lay their eggs then raise their chicks.  I have 2 nest boxes in the garden, though the birds only ever seem to nest in one,  as one is rather old. If you have never thought about having a nest box in the garden I can thoroughly recommend it. With the natural habitat for nesting birds reducing, you can do your bit to help them to continue breeding. 

National Nest Box Week February

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) support National Bird Nesting week between 14 - 21 February. They have lots of helpful information including a free information pack to help you select the correct bird box and ensure you site it in the correct location. 

Already have a bird nest box in your garden?  

  • Make sure you remove any old nesting materials. 
  • Ensure it is pest/insect free. 
  • If it has been up over Winter check it is still firmly fastened to its location.

Join in the Nest Box Challenge

This year I will also be joining in with the Nest Box Challenge by registering my nest box and hopefully letting them know which birds nest in it. You do not have to wait until a bird starts nesting in it you can register it now. The British Trust for Ornithology also want to know if you have empty nest boxes.

National Nest Box Week February Coal Tits in bird box
Nesting Coal Tits in my garden
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