The big move!

Hi folks. We have exciting news for you tonight……

We’ve moved!
(nope, not house, don’t worry Mum :D)

Sam and Phil are now the proud owners of ¬†….

www.cookquiltmakeandbake.com

We have loved our little wordpress.com blog space over the past 14 months but, in the last couple of months (thanks to all our lovely readers!) we have somewhat (a lot) out grown him.

So, just like a family who keeps growing and moving on up from their little two bed condo to a proper family home, we decided it was time to embrace the change, bite the bullet and buy our own domain (think of it as our new 3 bed semi-detached :D).

Phil has spent the weekend glued to his laptop coding away, so hopefully the move should be pretty seamless and you shouldn’t have to do anything different. All our follower emails should update automatically, and the old site will keep redirecting you on over to our new casa :D. (In fact, if you check out your browser address, you should have been redirected over there already. Surprise!)

That being said, please bear with us if things are a bit buggy over the next few days . Just like getting used to the boiler and electrics in a new home, it’s taking us a while to get to grips with the new and slightly daunting world of SQL databases and CSS coding (:S !).

Also, if you do notice anything which isn’t working for you please shoot us a line via the usual routes (cookquiltmakeandbake@gmail.com, twitter or facebook).

Otherwise, its service as usual over here at cookquiltmakeandbake. New domain, slightly new web address, same old Sam and Phil ūüėÄ

So, welcome to our new home! We love you guys ūüėÄ

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Make: Felted Ball Garland

Hey folks, we hope you are all having a lovely restful weekend however you are spending it!

We are mostly catching up with bits and pieces we neglected during our lovely weekend off last week #yikeslaundrymountain #ourcupboardsarebare … oopsy lol, whilst catching bits and pieces of the family movies which start popping on TV at this time of year (it’s The Love Bug at the moment … Phil is very happy :D)

We were also super excited this morning to start gathering supplies for our upcoming¬†Christmas¬†posts. The good news is we have more or less all the supplies in the house already, which is exactly how we like it when it comes to our homemade¬†Christmas. The bad news is that it turns out a sheet of acrylic at the hardware store costs around ¬£35!, so we might have to have a little rethink one of them …. but fear not, we have about 100 more projects up our sleeves (I’m super excited about them, if it was up to me I’d just share them all already … just sayin ūüėÄ )

So, onto¬†today’s¬†post. ¬†On Tuesday we posted about our Thanksgiving decor, including a felt ball garland I had been making.¬†So I thought it¬†would be fun this afternoon to stop by and, as our last fall post of the year, share with you how we made our felt ball garland.

I should say, I do¬†realize¬†its not strictly fall at all anymore ….. looking outside it is most¬†definitely¬†wintery here, but this project has literally taken me ALL of fall to finish, so I couldn’t not share it now that its done. Plus, even though our felt balls are in autumnal colours, you could make yours any colour, including¬†Christmasy¬†or¬†wintery¬†ones, so really it could be used year round! (at least that’s my line and I’m sticking to it :P)

I’ve always fancied having a go at making felt balls. I think they look so cozy and cute all strung together and draped round things or across a window, or even on a Christmas tree. My one disclaimer on this project though would be that to make enough balls for a decent length garland (around 50 balls) ends up being a pretty big time commitment (I even enlisted help from Phil’s lovey sister Sarah at one point). This is for two reasons really: firstly it takes around 10 – 15 minutes per ball to make them. Secondly, the process is a bit tough on your hands (lots of wool and warm water over an hour = pruney hands), so I could only really do 2 or 3 at a time before my hands needed a little break.

That being said, don’t let me put you off because I totally fell in love with felting in the process!! Even though it was long , it was actually very methodical and soothing. After about ball 5 you’ve got the hang of it and you can switch off and watch TV while you do it. Plus, I liked that if you only have 10 minutes to spare you can pick the project up and just make one without making lots of mess or having to get out lots of equipment. Also, as an aside, it has to be literally the cleanest project ever as its mostly just soap and water, and that makes odd-old-me quite happy.

So, enough of the blather. On to the balls (yep, I’m saying the word balls a lot in the project and I’m not even ashamed :P).

Felt Ball Garland 

You will need:

Dyed Wool Tops in any color you fancy-

Wool tops are washed and carded wool which is not yet spun. It is super soft and used in both wet felting (which is how we make the balls) and dry needle felting. ¬†I don’t know where my wool tops came from as they were a Christmas gift from Santa last year, but if you just¬†Google¬†them then they are pretty widely available online and in most wool / crafting stores.

As a guide for wool volume. I used 100g of tops to make the 50 – 60 balls on my garland (each ball was around half the size of a golf ball). Even though 100g doesn’t sound like a lot, actually a little wool goes a long way.¬†

A bottle of warm soapy water  Р I used 2 teaspoons of washing up liquid in a 1 litre bottle, the water was just warm from the tap. 

A bowl of clean warm water Р again just warm from the tap

A towel ¬†– this doesn’t get ruined, it is just to soak up the excess water from your hands so it doesn’t need to be an old towel, anything will do.¬†

A sharp needle 

String, the length you would like your garland  РI used a red cotton yarn 

1) ¬†Grab a handful.¬†¬†Taking your wool tops, pull off a¬†handful¬†of wool to make your felted ball (you don’t need to cut it with scissors, it should just pull away from the rest of the wool). I was happy for my felted balls to all be different sizes so I didn’t measure, but as a rough guide a square of wool around 6″ by 6″ will make a ball around half the size of a golf ball.

2) Spread it out. Take the wool and spread it out into a even-ish thin-ish flat layer (this is to make sure you have no big clumps of wool, but this isn’t a exact art so don’t worry too much). ¬†Lay this layer over your palm.

3) Get soapy. Taking your bottle of warm soapy water, pour about a couple of teaspoons of water over the center of the wool on your palm (don’t worry if it overflows a little, the towel under your hands should catch the excess).

4)  Scrunch together. Using your other hand, make little pinching movements in the middle of the wool to start gathering it together into a rough ball. Continue pinching until the wool is all scrunched together, wet and soapy.

5) Start rolling. Very lightly, start to roll the ball between your two palms. If you find the ball is slipping and sliding around you are probably putting too much pressure. Just very gently, making circular movements, roll the wool ball round and round (as if you were rolling a ball out of dough or making a meatball).

6) Keep rolling. Eventually, over 3-4 minutes¬†your wool should start to form a slightly firmer round ball shape. Don’t put lots of pressure on it, just keep going, gently until your ball comes together but is still squashy (it should be around 1/3rd smaller than you started with).

7) First rinse. Rinse your ball in the bowl of warm water to get a little of the soap out.

8) Cover the cracks. Once you have rinsed it you might notice a few cracks in the surface. That is OK, don’t panic. That is what this next step is to solve.

Take another much much smaller piece of wool (about 1/6th of the amount you started with) and spread it out into a very thin layer. Wrap this thin layer around your felt ball creating a new outer layer.

9) Get soapy again. Pour another 2 tablespoons of the warm soapy water over your ball so that the new outer wool is totally soaked.

10) More rolling. Using the exact same rolling movement as before, and very gentle hands keep rolling the ball between your palms for another 2 – 3 minutes. It should now have a smooth, crack free outer surface.

11) Rinse and repeat. Keep rolling the felt ball for another 5 minutes, rinsing it in the soapy water every now and then (your goal is not to remove all the soap, I don’t think that is possible, but just to clean it off a little). ¬†As you roll you can start to put gradually more and more pressure on until it forms a springy ball, about half the size you started with.¬†Once I had finished mine they were about the right firmness that they would bounce once if you dropped them on the table.

12) Thread together. Once you have made all the balls you need for your garland, you can string them together by using a sharp needle, threaded with your garland string, and skewering them through the middle (if the balls are very firm you might want a pair of pliers to help you pull the needle through the other side).

Ta dahhhh, all finished.

So there you have it, how to make felt balls described only using the word ball 38 (39 now) times) he he he. They are so versatile you could use them for just about anything! I also think they would be super cute placed in a vase or bowl as a seasonal table decoration. Or you could make a few big ones and use them as baubles.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, don’t work too hard ūüėÄ

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Life: Thanksgiving came early!

Hi folks,

Happy Thanksgiving week to you all ūüėÄ

Today we don’t have a tutorial to share with you. ¬†Instead, this weekend Phil and I took some much needed time off and¬†traveled¬†from Edinburgh all the way down to West Yorkshire in England to visit my brother to celebrate Thanksgiving with him.

Phil and my brother Adam 

We know we were a few days early with our celebrations this year, but this weekend (being the weekend before Thanksgiving for those of you who don’t celebrate) was the only time we were mutually free to travel. The UK doesn’t give us any time off for American celebrations ….. sad times.

So although we were early, we figured that really, in the spirit of thanksgiving, it doesn’t matter when you celebrate. What’s more important is that you make sure to take a weekend with your loved ones, come together to prepare and eat a meal and ¬†to spend some quality time together.

Now, we know its a little odd for a bunch of Brits to be so attached to an American holiday that they would embark on a 4 hour drive just to celebrate it. But, what many of you might not know is that my brother Adam, my family and I spent a fairly significant chunk of my teenage years living in Massachusetts (infact, I did all of my highschooling there. Class of 2004! Woop).

So, it turns out that, even though we don’t live in the US anymore, the holidays you celebrate as a child and a teenager are pretty hard to let go of as you get older (especially ones as full of holiday goodness as Thanksgiving!!). So instead, each year we try to celebrate Thanksgiving in our own way. The awesome thing is this year we got to hoof it on down to Adam so he could share in the holiday spirit with us!

We divided up the work so the boys tackled the feast while I tackled the decor and the pie.

So, let me share our decorations first.

Our Thanksgiving Table 

Apart from setting the table nicely with table cloth and napkins (which, I’ll be honest, we don’t do every day, sorry Martha) our decorations centered on two main projects:

1) a fall colours felt ball garland I have been working on for more or less ALL of fall (man, it has taken a long time and I have a post all about it for you coming in the week ahead :D)

2) a thanksgiving fall tree centerpiece

The tree was one of the quickest projects I’ve done in a long time (which is good because the felt balls took forever!) We wanted a centerpiece which would travel well on our mini road trip (which ruled out flowers which is what I would normally go for), and which would be seasonal and cute.

So, first I tasked Adam in the week before we arrived to go for a walk in his local park and find us some good branches (which was a task he totally aced and found some perfect specimens!)

Then I just took some double sided card in fall-ish colours which I already had in our craft cupboard and cut out some leaf shapes (which I drew free hand on the card in pencil first). All that was left to do was to punch a hole in each leaf and thread it with some red string.

Then on Saturday when we arrived at Adams I just popped the branches in a vase and hung my leaves on them. We had around 5 branches and I cut around 30 leaves which ended up being more than enough.

All in all the project took about 20 minutes, including finding the branches and cutting the leaves.

Simple and cute! ūüėÄ – I also used the leftover leaves to make some easy place cards for our napkins.

Here are the boys, intently cooking up a storm. 

So now for food. On the menu we had:

Turkey with a bacon blanket which Phil lovingly latticed (our turkey fed 8!, which means Adam will be eating leftover turkey until Christmas!)

Mashed potatoes

Roast root vegetables

Cabbage (we were going to make green bean casserole but the boys unanimously said they preferred cabbage).

Phil’s homemade soft rolls

Turkey stuffing

Gravy and Cranberry Sauce

and Pumpkin Pie for pudding.

I was desperate to make Yams too but the boys assured me we probably had enough food for an army so I relented for this year (not next year though boys!!, although if I’m honest we really did have enough food for an army).

And let me tell you, from the first buttery roll to the last bite of smooth pumpkiny pie it was ddddeeeeellllicious ūüėÄ

Luckily by the next morning we were ready to eat again, so for breakfast we popped to Betty’s in Harrogate, a proper traditional English tearoom, where the waitresses wear frilly pinnys and the baked goods are to die for. On a Sunday morning in the winter they light the log fires and have a pianist tinkling on the piano. Phil and I try to go to Betty’s whenever we are in the North of England, so we just couldn’t resist a stop by. Our one tip is to get there early if you don’t want to wait. Betty’s yummyness is not a very well kept secret and lines can get pretty long if you are not an early bird.

So, that was our lovely weekend.

It’s funny how the weekend off was exactly what we needed to get ourselves in the holiday spirit and get down to planning our twelve days of¬†Christmas¬†posts which are in the pipeline as we speak (Phil is sat next to me working on part one which is going to take a little time to come together) so keep tuning in! ūüėÄ

So, for those of you yet to celebrate, let us wish you a very happy, safe and food filled Thanksgiving, whoever you choose to spend it with.

We know that we have so many things to be thankful for (we are far more blessed than we could hope for). But one of our biggies is all of you, our lovely and patient readers who stop by every day and send us awesome comments and emails.  You never fail to make us smile, so we are thankful for you!

Happy Turkey Day from both of us!

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Bake: Coconut Bread

Hey folks! It’s official, I think fall may have fallen and winter is on its way. The trees outside our window are now leafless (not sure if that’s a word), Starbucks has it’s red cups and Rod Stewart has started plugging his Christmas album on just about every British talk show. Sam and I even spent a good amount of time staring at Christmas lights at a hardware store this weekend before deciding we didn’t really understand the difference between multi-function micro lights and multi-function led lights so could probably put off that purchase for another couple of weeks at least.

As the days tick by however, there is something altogether more exciting on the horizon, something which has been a looooooong time in coming. Namely that Sam and I stop pretending and actually get on with organising our wedding. I won’t admit quite how long we have actually been engaged, lets just say it’s been long enough to devote a whole shelf on our bookcase to editions of Martha Stewart Weddings. I’m sure in time we’ll have lots of good wedding related crafts to share with everyone in due course, but for the moment, everything is a little hush hush, as our families have a habit of stopping by and taking a peek at this here blog, and I guess they should really see our save the dates before you guys do! But secret wedding preparations can certainly be hungry work, and so we are curled up under a blanket with a cup of coffee and a copy of the latest Martha Stewart Weddings we have our hands on, what could be better than a slice of freshly baked coconut bread?

Well quite! So I guess I should share the recipe…

Coconut Bread –¬†Printer friendly version of recipe here!

Ingredients (fills one 10 x 4 loaf tin):

2 1/2 cups plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups caster sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

2 cups desiccated coconut

2 eggs

1 1/4 cups milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional – as hard to find this side of the pond)

1/3 cup melted butter

1) Dry mix – Into the bowl of your stand mixer add the flour, baking powder, caster sugar, cinnamon and finally desiccated coconut and stir on a low speed to ensure everything is evenly mixed.


2) Wet mix – Next, make a small well in the middle of the dry mix and add the eggs, milk, vanilla and coconut extracts (if you are using them both). Stir on a slow speed until all the flour is moistened, but careful not to over-mix. The less you mix the softer the bread will come out!

3) Butter it up – Finally pour in the melted butter and stir until just combined. Ta-dah the batter is ready.¬†Wasn’t¬†that nice and easy?

4) A little bit of prep – Preheat your oven to 180ňöC (350 F) and whilst you wait for the oven to heat up grease and flour your loaf tin. This will ensure it comes out in one piece later. Once your tin is ready add in the batter, which should reach about 3/4 of the way up the side of your tin.

5) Bake РPlace the bread in the oven for around an hour, although I’d check it with a skewer after about 50 minutes. As soon as a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean you are all done baking.

6) Cool – Leave the bread to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes. If you try and get it out of the tin straight away it is liable to fall apart. Then carefully slide a pallet knife around the edge of the loaf to free it and turn it out onto a cooling rack.

7) Enjoy! РIf you can’t wait coconut bread is super tasty hot out of the oven, although will be easier to slice when cool. My personal favourite way to enjoy it is toasted with a little butter and a cup of good coffee (and a copy of Martha Stewart Weddings to browse).

Happy baking ūüėÄ

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Halloween: Mocha Pumpkin Seed Trail Mix

Hi y’all!

Before we start, we just wanted to say that we are both sending lots of thoughts and prayers to all our readers and their friends, family and loved ones who are currently without power, flooded or snowed in following Hurricane Sandy. We know a lot of our readers live in the areas affected by the storm. We have been following the news since Sunday and thinking about you all. Please keep staying safe and looking after each other.

But, that being said, it just so happens to be both Halloween and Phil and my 8 years anniversary, which sounds like a pretty good excuse to engage in an evening of tasty snacking! So we thought we would stop by and share a super quick but yummy recipe with you tonight: Mocha Pumpkin Seed Trail Mix! ¬†Perfect for curling up under a duvet and watching a scary movie with your bestie! (Actually, if your anything like me, you’ll spend most of the film behind a pillow, with your eyes closed, your fingers in your ears singing a happy song ….. I’m a total scaredy cat when it comes to horror films!)

Phil and I have only really discovered roasted pumpkin seeds this fall. We can’t believe all this time we have been eating and carving pumpkin and just throwing them in the trash! But ¬†we are total converts and now we can’t get enough of toasting them and trying out new sweet and¬†savory¬†flavor¬†combos. We even tested some on Phil’s family who were around over the weekend and they were a hit! So, tonight we thought we would share out latest flavor combo’s which also just so happens to be our favorite so far: Mocha! They go perfectly in a¬†naughty¬†chocolaty¬†trail mix as they add just the right amount of coffee crunchy goodness.

So, here is the recipe! Its super quick! Seriously ….. by the time your pumpkins are carved your snack is ready to go.

Mocha Pumpkin Seed Trail Mix

Ingredients

For the seeds:

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1 egg white

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon espresso powder

For the trail mix: (these are just our favorites  you could totally mix it up and add any sweet or salty trail mix ingredients you fancied!)

1 cup brazil nuts, 

1 cup pecan nuts

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup raisins (we like the big juicy flame raisins)

1 cup chocolate buttons

1) Scoop – first of all, chop your pumpkin and scoop out all the seeds and pulp, then separate the seeds from the pulp.

2) Wash – next give your seeds a quick rinse to remove any remaining bits of pulp ….. hint: pumpkin seeds float, so when you wash them, pop them in a¬†colander¬†and then don’t run the water too fast otherwise they all float off and down the drain (I learned that lesson the hard way).

3) Whisk – In a separate bowl whisk together your egg white, sugar, coffee and cocoa powder into a thick wet mix.

4) Toss and Spread  РToss your pumpkin seeds in the mix so that they all get a thick coating of the egg mixture. Then spread them out on a baking sheet or in a cast iron pan which you have lightly greased (we just Pam sprayed ours which works really well).

5) Bake –¬†¬†Pop the seeds in a 150¬†¬įC (300 F) oven for 35 – 45 minutes, taking them out to lightly toss them half ¬†way through the cooking time.

6) Mix Р Chop the nuts for your trail mix if your using them, and weight out your other trail mix ingredients, and then simply toss them together with the pumpkin seeds.

There you have it. Easy as pie ….. actually its even easier than pie! ¬†Phil and I have a bowl of trail mix sat between us as we are sat on the sofa writing this, and it is rapidly disappearing! The house smells like candles and slightly cooking squash from our Jack-o-Lanterns (or Jack-o-Butternut squash if your Phil, it’s a tradition, he always carves a squash!)

Happy Halloween to all of you! We decided to properly celebrate our anniversary over the weekend. This year is Phil’s pick so we are off to see Skyfall (I have to admit, I’m actually pretty excited myself!) We’ll let you know what we think.

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