Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Super Sundae Candles

Just made some of these for a craft fair coming up in December. Easy-peasy lemon-squeasy. You'll need soya wax, wick string, wick holders and something to hold the wick in place while the wax sets (I use two wooden skewers taped together but you can get properly made holders). All these supplies are easily found online - I use (good service and a nice namecheck to the Two Ronnies sketch):
  • Get yourself some sundae glasses (cheap as chips from charity shops), wash and dry.
  • Boil the kettle and fill the glasses with hot water to ensure they don't crack when you pour in the wax. Empty and dry well before you add the wax (naturally!).
  • Cut the wick to the appropriate length for the sundae dish and push through the wick holder. Suspend the wick and holder in the sundae dish by balancing the skewers on the top of the dish.
  • Measure out your wax - I find normally twice the volume of the dish works well.
  • Melt the wax in a bain-marie (smaller saucepan floating in the larger saucepan full of water). You can also melt wax in the microwave but CAREFULLY as the flashpoint of wax is quite low and you don't want some kind of horrible, skin-graft-needed type of accident to occur...
  • When the wax is liquid, you can add a few drops of fragrance (vanilla always nice, I find).
  • Pour carefully into the sundae dish.
  • Let the wax set (it will start off clear and gradually cloud over) over 24 hours. Then trim the wick and you have a sundae candle!
  • I find soya wax tends to shrink away from the side of the dish as it cools so you can always top up with some more melted wax or smooth the surface with a heat gun if you want to get really technical.
Also works well with teacups. I would post pictures but unfortunately my camera suffered a sea-water and baby-drool related accident and died.

Safety bit: Never leave a burning candle unattended.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Time flies or more accurately, rockets past...

Well, geez, you have one little baby and look what happens...

It's been months, MONTHS I SAY, since I updated this blog. I have been slightly busy getting the little QuirkyPiglet safely into his seventh month (and fine and bonny he is too) so it's not as if I've been idle - still, there's lots still to be done business and craft-wise so I'll be keeping you updated on a hopefully slightly more frequent schedule.

I'm experimenting with a bit of a departure for the teacup plants. Usually, it's plants that don't need a lot of watering that work best in tiny, closed containers as one can just water them very sparingly. However, had a bit of brain wave (it does happen) and wondered whether a plant that positively likes being soggy could work as well in a vintage planter - so if one got a little overzealous on the watering, it wouldn't be a disaster. So at the moment, I have the beautiful but deadly Venus Fly Trap planted in one of my teacups and under observation... A bog plant, it likes its soil to be kept moist at all times but it's lime-hating, so must be watered with rainwater, not tapwater and it likes ericacious compost.

Question to self: do you actually need to feed them with flies/meat if they don't catch their own? Slightly ugh at the thought but if it has to be done...

On a more tasteful note, the sloe gin, limoncello and a rather experimental rosehip and blackberry vodka are coming along nicely...

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Time flies when you've got a QuirkyPiglet..

Can't believe it's almost three months since the QuirkyPiglet was born. He grows in beauty and, er, growth by the day.

Broke out the sewing machine for the first time since his birth this week, knocking up a handbag-sized change mat for a friend who's just had her second child. I also brought out the mobile that I was in the middle of making for the Piglet and may just get around to finishing it off.

Garden-wise, everything is becoming quite rampant. There are strawberries and raspberries forming on the bushes, tiny buds growing on the courgette plants but all but one of my heritage variety cucumbers (Crystal Lemon) have been eaten by the b******* slugs...

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

And it's a big warm welcome to Quirky Piglet!

The littlest Quirky Piglet is 12 days old today! He was ushered into the world at 4.30am on Saturday 20th March weighing a highly respectable 7 pounds 10 ounces (don't ask me what that is in kilograms, I'm old fashioned). Apart from putting my back out during labour (the least said of which the better), I'm actually feeling rather chipper, probably helped by the fact that little QP seems to have the sleeping and feeding thing down quite well. Long may it continue. I've probably jinxed myself now.

Obviously not much going on craft-wise at the moment - I'm still too busy gazing proudly at my greatest creation so far...

And for today, it's a goodbye oink from me and a goodbye squeal from him x

Monday, 8 March 2010

Five Boring Presents That Are Actually Great

Well, it's nearly Mothering Sunday and the nation's manufacturers of cheap, plastic wrapped chocolate and growers of limp, forecourt bunches of chrysanthemums are no doubt gearing themselves up for a bumper year. Mothering Sunday is a bit like Christmas - bad/boring gifts abound. But I musn't be cynical, because a) all presents are actually great, because someone has taken the time and spent a little bit of money thinking about you and b) there are at least 5 unfairly maligned gifts that are actually rather nice to receive (sometimes with a little tweaking):

1. Chocolate.
Come on, do I need to explain this one? It's chocolate! I could ponce on about how it's much better to have Fairtrade, 90% cocoa solids, Green & Black-type fanciness but sometimes, in all honesty, only a Cadbury's Cream Egg will do.

2. Forecourt Flowers
Yes, not very prepossessing but all is not lost. The way to make them look much more expensive and prettier is to chop the stems down short, so the flower heads are massed in a bunch and tie the shorter stems tightly near the top with ribbon or twine. Get rid of the horrid cellophane and present them to the receiver as a cute little posy, or in a lovely container such as a pretty little jug, glass or something more esoteric, like a tea pot. Incidentally, cut flowers last much longer if you add a couple of teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda to the water and freshen it frequently.

3. Socks
As the Prince Regent (Hugh Laurie) put it in Blackadder the Third, "To me, socks are like sex. Tons of it about, and I never seem to have any." Indeed. Socks are a great present to receive because, in truth, you can never have too many pairs of socks. Why? Because socks are like celebrity couples - their pairing lasts a matter of months (sometimes weeks). Socks get lost down the back of the chest of drawers, mislaid on the way to the laundry, eaten by the washing machine. No matter how many pairs of socks you buy, sooner or later, you end up with a drawer full of odd socks. And this is why socks are a great present. Particularly (hint to friends) any type of sock that is made with cashmere...

4. Candles
I have been rather guilty of this myself as a boring present giver. But seriously though, I think candles are great. They're beautiful when lit, they cast a lovely light and they're useful too, in the event of a power cut. If you have a open fire grate, you can fill it with candles in the summer, when it's too hot for a fire, and still have the illusion of firelight. Dot them around the bath or shower and you make an everyday chore into a spa experience. The QuirkyPig shop will soon be offering vintage tea cup candles for sale so I'm biased, but of all the boring presents, these are probably the best. And the cheap ones don't tend to be heavily scented, so they're inoffensive too.  (Safety bit - never, but never leave a burning candle unattended).

5. Smellies
Possibly one of the most unimaginative presents in the world but still salvageable. Alright, it's a bit harder when you're handed over a plastic bottle of some acid-green bubble bath that looks radioactive and would probably work better as a toilet cleaner. So, use it as a toilet cleaner! For the slightly nicer smellies you get given, they all look loads better decanted into pretty containers. You can pick up cut-glass jars and delicate ceramic pots in charity shops for buttons. Decant the smellies from the cheap plastic tubes, arrange them artistically in your bathroom or on your dressing table - job done. I've also been known to use shampoo and bubble bath to wash clothes. Don't over do it as you could have a foam explosion but a small amount will get your clothes clean and make them smell nice too.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Awaiting the patter of little trotters...

Well, it's a week to go before the anticipated arrival of the first Quirky Piglet... how apt that he or she is due on Mothering Sunday (although unlikely that they'll be so obliging as to actually arrive on their due date!). I feel as ready as I'll ever be and quite, quite ready not to be pregnant any longer. Feel like a barrel on legs at the moment, with a stomach (and bladder) the size of a peanut...

Anyway, I've put my last bits of free time to good use and made two change mats. One side is lined with waterproof fabric, the other side is a pretty piece of material and in between is some soft padding, so it can also be used as a play mat when flipped over. Added some ties which means I can roll it up neatly, just right for carrying about in my handbag (along with my drawstring wet nappy bag). When I've finessed the design, I'll put some on the website for sale but in the meantime, littlest QP can be my test (guinea) pig. 

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Has Spring Sprung?

Could it possibly be true? After months of snow, frost, rain, darkness and general weathery unpleasantness, QuirkyPig woke today to glorious sunshine and a much improved temperature. Of course, this meant rushing out to the garden to get some more seeds sown and a blueberry bush planted up.

Currently in the propagator:
Veg/fruit/herbs : 2 varieties of tomato / basil / yellow crystal cucumber / tabasco chilli pepper
Flowers: coleus / actinidia / blue chrysanthemum

This is my first attempt at cultivating blueberries - apparently they like an acid (ericaceous) soil and to be watered with rain water, rather than tap water. Currently, it must be said, my two plants are not looking too impressive. Think twig, rather than bush. Hopefully, they are just dormant, rather than deceased...

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Saturday Night Cushion Fever

Such is the wild and exciting life that I now lead, I spent my Saturday night making a new cushion. Rock and roll! It is rather nice though - a white linen base with variegated ribbon stripes in shades of gold, soft pink and purple.
Oh and I baked some chocolate chip cookies. Yum. The super easy recipe, should anyone want to attempt it, is below:

Makes about 18-20

75g butter (at room temperature)
175g muscovado sugar
1 egg
splash of milk
150g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
packet of chocolate chips (either milk, dark or white - or all three!)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/350G/Gas Mark 4.

Mix butter and sugar together until all lumps have gone. Stir in egg, flour and cocoa powder and mix til smooth. Add a splash of milk to bind it all together. Stir in the choc chips.

Spoon 20 or so mounds onto greased baking trays, leaving them room to spread during cooking.
Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Eat and enjoy!

Friday, 26 February 2010

The Beauty of Fresh Bedlinen

Today, QuirkyPig changed the sheets. Exciting, huh? Well, in my opinion, fresh clean bedlinen is one of life's greatest small pleasures. Ah, the joy of sinking into crisply ironed, 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and snuggling beneath a plump, soft duvet, with perhaps a herbal slumber pillow or little heart sachet slipped into the pillow case to waft you to Dreamland with the delicate scent of lavender...

I must confess, when I was young, I didn't believe in ironing bedlinen (or indeed, in ironing anything - it cut into valuable partying time). Then I met Mr QuirkyPig and he introduced me to the joys of well-pressed and freshly laundered bedsheets and I have never looked back (it helps that Mr QP still does the ironing). One thing though - when you have fresh bedlinen, you must complete the whole sensual experience with a clean set of sleepwear. There's no point in heaping your bed with a sumptous pile of spankingly clean linen and then getting into it in the same pair of manky pyjamas you've been wearing all week. No, go to the whole hog: pure, snowy linen, plumped up pillows and some immaculate nightwear in sensual silk or cuddlesome brushed cotton. Add a mug of cocoa, a quiet, dark room and you're all set for the best night's sleep of your life.

Which reminds me, it's time for my nap. Zzzzzzzzz......

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Chocks Away!

Here goes - the first post for QuirkyPig. And my first blog post ever! Blog - it's an ugly word, isn't it? Still, it's obviously here to stay so I must just get used to it...

Welcome to QuirkyPig's Felicity in Domesticity. In this blog, I plan to explore all the ways to enjoy domesticity and how to make a house a home. If you like sewing, knitting, creative pursuits, natural housekeeping, gardening, cooking, thrifty living, making-do and mending and all the ways you can make your house a warm, safe, relaxing sanctuary, I hope you'll check in from time to time and add your own comments to my ramblings.