DIY Bedding Box

A few months ago I was given a very old and rather sorry-looking bedding box. Although slightly forlorn, I knew it wasn’t quite bin-worthy so I decided to give it a new lease of life, and at the same time create a home for my, ahem, rather large collection of wool. I knew just the girl to help me: Laura Capper of Laura’s Attic. As the home of furniture re-upholstery, Laura’s studio contains all sorts of tricks and tools for projects just like this one – such as a magnetic hammer, possibly the coolest invention ever? So over numerous cups of tea, she helped me primp and preen my bedding box into a thing of floral beauty. So here is a little DIY story for you today…

Poor old bedding box before its makeover…

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Little bit ragged around the edges…

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First we ripped off the lid covering and pulled out many rusty old nails, and I gave the box a good clean with soapy water…

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Then I painted on two coats of moss green paint, to match the fabric I had chosen for the lid of the box…

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Now on to the lid: we took off the rusty old hinges and chain…

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And I cut out a rectangle each of upholstery foam and wool batting, to fit on top of the lid…

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I used spray adhesive to stick the two layers on top of the lid…

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Then we positioned the lid on top of my chosen fabric…

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And I used a staple gun to secure the fabric all the way around, pulling the fabric taught…

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Then trimmed off the excess material…

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Next I used a glue gun to attach bias binding all the way around the edge of the lid (that neat corner, there? Yep, that was all Laura. It takes quite a bit of practice to get them that neat – and a good magnetic hammer…)

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Then I used the glue gun to attach my pom-pom trim – my favourite part!

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And it’s done – all apart from attaching new hinges and chain to the lid…

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I’m sorry to say that the box sat in my sewing room all over Christmas, waiting for its hinges and chain to be added. But this past week my boyfriend obliged…

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And my bedding box really is finished! Now, I wonder how much wool I can squash in there…

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Fit for a Queen

Like many, I am a big fan of Scandinavia. The wooden houses, the folk art, and of course…the cooking. I first heard about Signe Johansen upon discovering her book Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking…Scandilicious, and enjoyed every page of its mouth-watering, beautifully photographed recipes. Last year, Signe released a second book which got me even more excited, because it was all about Scandinavian baking. OH YES.

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With equally stunning photography, and recipes varying from Danish pastries to rum truffles to cardamom bun-pops to whisky cake, this book quickly rose to the top of my must-bake pile. Signe was the lady who inspired my obsession with cheese straws. Since then, I’ve baked her bread plait for friends, who declared it a triumph: buttery and ever so slightly sweet.

But today I will be sharing Signe’s recipe for Queen Maud muffins, so-called because blueberry and raspberry jam is known in Scandinavia as ‘Queen Maud’s jam’. How lovely! Last week, when the sun was shining and the weather warming up, I decided it was the perfect recipe to usher in Spring. Today, it is snowing and bitterly cold. Meh, the muffins are still delicious.

Containing wholemeal flour and yoghurt, these muffins are wholesome and not-too-sweet, making them great for breakfast. They are equally lovely for afternoon tea; spongy and moist with fruit. I used frozen raspberries and blueberries instead of fresh, and they worked fine. If you wanted to sweeten them up a bit, I think they would be lovely with demerara sugar, as well as oats, sprinkled on the top. So go ahead and make these fruity muffins, and perhaps Spring will appear after all. And if not, at least you’ll have something delightful to eat while you wait out the cold…

Queen Maud muffins
from Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen

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Ingredients:
3 medium eggs, beaten
150g (5oz) caster sugar
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
200ml (7fl oz) whole milk
150g (5oz) refined spelt or plain flour
100g (3½oz) wholemeal flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1¼ tsp fine sea salt
75g (2.5oz) butter, melted
100g (3½oz) fresh or frozen blueberries
100g (3½oz) fresh or frozen raspberries
spelt or oat flakes to garnish

– Line a 12 cup muffin tray (at least 3-4cm deep) with scrunched up squares of parchment paper or muffin cases, and preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/Gas mark 7.

– Mix the eggs and sugar together in a medium bowl. Stir the yoghurt into the milk in a small jug. Put the flours, raising agents, cinnamon (if using) and salt in a large bowl and stir to distribute the raising agents evenly. Make a well in the middle and pour in the egg mixture, the yoghurt-milk mixture and the melted butter. Stir 4-5 times to mix everything together and then fold in the berries, working gently but quickly so the berries don’t bleed to much into the mixture (this will be easier to avoid if the berries are frozen – Emily). Mix 4-5 times more. The trick with muffins is not to overmix the batter, so err on the side of caution and stir up to 12 times altogether but no more (any pockets of flour you come across can be teased out and mixed in using the tip of a sharp knife or skewer).

– Use an ice cream scoop or small spoon to scoop the mixture into each muffin case until it is three-quarters full, then sprinkle the top with spelt or oat flakes.

– Bake on the upper-middle shelf of the oven for 10 minutes before turning the heat down to 190°C/170°C fan/Gas mark 5 and baking for a further 5-10 minutes or until the muffins have risen well and look pale golden brown. If in doubt insert a skewer into one – when you remove it there should be no uncooked mixture, only a few crumbs.

– Cool on a wire rack. These keep for a day or two in an airtight container, or you can freeze them in foil for a couple of months. Just reheat from frozen at 150°C/130°C fan/Gas mark 2 for 15 minutes for fresh muffins.

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Lately: phone edition

My brother spoiled me last Christmas by giving me his old iPhone. I’ve never had a fancy phone before and I have to admit that I’m slightly obsessed. I can go on the internet any time I like! Obviously this is dangerous and makes for rash, excited Twitter behaviour and online purchases. I’ve also started taking photos with my phone, which means I’ve beeen neglecting my film and SLR cameras. Sob. But I’m sure the novelty will wear off, and I hope to redress the balance soon. In the meantime, here’s what’s been happening lately via my iPhone…

Enjoying: an indulgent evening of fancy cocktails at the top of the Hilton hotel, Manchester

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Finding: treasures, and only taking some of them home

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Marvelling: at handmade feats of beauty

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Preparing: for an Alice in Wonderland themed Comic Relief fundraiser at the library where I work

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And of course, crafting: as usual…

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