Category Archives: Frugally Ever After

Frugally Ever After: Knitted Intarsia Heart Square

knitting bag

Having always been an avid knitter, I wanted my Frugally Fabulous Year challenge to push my creativity and learn new skills in the knitting department as well as sewing!

I’ve become fairly accomplished at knitting, through teaching myself how to read patterns and frequenting a knitting club, many years ago, in Bath.  Last Christmas, I had great success selling these handknitted gnomes (I’m taking orders all year round for them this year too – please drop me an email if you’re interested) and this year, I wanted to try some new knitting styles and really challenge my abilities, to create new and interesting bits and pieces for the home.

One knitting method I have never tried is Intarsia, a simple form of working with blocks of colours in knitting.  I love the idea of creating motifs and wanted to give it a try.  I came up with the idea of trying a simple knit square with a heart motif – another possible idea for a Frugally Ever After gift, this Valentine.  I think the idea of making a patchwork ‘memory throw’, starting with this heart as a central point, that charts special occasions and moments in our family life is a really special idea and a perfect crafty way to say ‘I Love You and I Love Us’.

So…..here is my first square!  I cast on 44 stitches and knitted 44 rows on 4mm needles.  I roughly sketched a heart design on graph paper and basically increased my row of red stitches by one on each side, to get the shape of the heart. intarsia heart finished I had this lovely blue yarn, stashed away at the bottom of the pile and a tiny red double knitting ball that I’d never used.  The colours go so vividly together.  The heart is far from perfect – indicative of my own, I’m sure; but I was really proud of my first attempt, that I decided to leave it as it was, ready to be stitched up to whatever else I may make in the coming year!  I plan to work with new textures and pattern ideas using simply Fairisle and Cable Knit methods, alongside other quirky Intarsia designs and mood colours.  I’m lucky that Mr J really appreciates handmade gifts and loves adding to our handmade home with some of my Frugally Fabulous ideas!  This Valentine’s Day…why not get your needles out give a loved one a little piece of you!

I’ve learnt the hard way that preparation is everything when it comes to Intarsia and making mini yarn balls is probably the way forward.  You know me – renegade crafter by name AND nature.  I was more concerned with remembering to twist the yarn in place and work from the right end of the yarn – not to mention engrossed in catching up with some of my TV faves; so I made sure to cut out a few yarn guiders from an old cereal box, ready for my next square.

intarsia heart closeI’m working on another knitted WIP at the moment, ready for a very special unveiling in March!  Trying out Intarsia has given me so many ideas for this one, I can’t wait to share it with you all.  I also can’t wait to update you on the Memory Throw as I make progress with it throughout the year.  Fingers crossed, by Christmas, we will have a colourful throw of haphazard designs and quirky memories, to snuggle under!

Stay Peachy x

 

 

Frugally Ever After: Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Cupcake FinishedWhat’s life without a little sweet treat every now and then?  I might have been treating us all with a little too much sweetness of late…BUT here’s another lovely recipe and an idea for The Big V.  I’ve been trying to watch the cals this year and, to be honest, I’m missing baking something chronic!  So, with Mr J’s Birthday at the start of the month, I took this as perfect timing to try a new recipe – inspired by old-fashioned movie dates, teamed with a love of a good cupcake! I give you…Salted Caramel Cupcakes!

The sponge is a basic recipe I use for all my cupcakes and cakes.  It’s light, fluffy and easy to add to – not to mention the use of simple ingredients makes them relatively cheap as well.  For this recipe,  I’ve used tinned caramel and added my own rock salt for a really nice, contrasting tang; you can of course make your own caramel too, but tinned caramel is sold in most large supermarkets costing £1.59 for one tub.  These are a great twist on the old caramel popcorn taste – so I’ve tied them in with the idea of a stay-in movie date!  Fancy giving them a go??

Ingredients (to make 12)

For the Sponge:

280g Golden Caster Sugar

240g Self Raising Flour

80g Soft Salted Butter

1 tsp Natural Vanilla Extract

240g Semi Skimmed Milk

2 Large Eggs

Pinch of Salt (optional)

Approximate 100g Tinned Caramel

For the Frosting:

500g Icing Sugar

140g Soft Salted Butter

Approx 35-40g Tinned Caramel

25ml Semi Skimmed Milk

Pinch of Salt

(Remaining Tinned Caramel for drizzling)

Method

Preheat an oven to 160 C (approximately 150 C for a fan) and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cases.

In a mixing bowl, using a food mixer, whisk the sugar, flour, pinch of salt and butter, until combined into a breadcrumb consistency.

Cupcakes CollageIn a separate bowl, mix the eggs, milk and vanilla extract and pour, slowly, into the dry mix.  Mix until combined and smooth.

Using a scoop or deep spoon, fill each cupcake case about 1 third full.  Then spoon about a teaspoon of the tinned caramel into each case, finishing by filling the cases with the rest of the cake mix.  The cases should be about 2/3 full.  Pop in the oven for 15-18 mins, remove when the cakes are golden brown and springy to touch.  Oh, and they pass the knife test! Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

To make the frosting, use the food mixer to beat the icing sugar and butter together until sandy-textured with no big lumps.  In a jug, mix the milk and tinned caramel and slowly add to the icing mixture, combining until the icing is creamy but can stand stiff in peaks.

Once the cakes have cooled, use a piping bag and medium nozzle to pipe the icing on each cake.  Using a smaller, writing nozzle, pour the remaining tinned caramel into a separate bag and drizzle lightly over each cake – don’t be too precious about this, perfection isn’t necessary!  Finish by sprinkling with a little salt (rock salt adds a wonderful crunch).

Serve in retro candystripe tubs with a choice of your all time favourite movies!!  Snuggle on the sofa and eat to your heart’s content!  This Frugal Valentines Day, it really is the little things!

Stay Peachy x

Frugally Ever After: Anatomical Heart Card

Heart Card 2So far, this year, I have prided myself on NOT buying any greetings cards; instead, choosing to make little cards from card, scraps and stickers I have lying around the house.  As much as I love a good fuelling of my stationery addiction in Paperchase, it’s an expense I can do without on my Frugally Fabulous Year.

If you read my last blog, you might be aware that I started messing about with a little bit of papercrafting – though I admit to being pretty mediocre at it.  I love paper crafting and I’ve seen some incredible illustrations recently, I just wish I was better at it!  Still….February means all sorts of cards in store for friends and family, and what better way to start than with an Anatomical Heart Valentine’s Card!  Using some basic card, fabric scraps and a craft knife; I came up with this pretty sweet idea – frugal, fabulous AND A great way to use up those bothersome fabric scraps!  I kept the outline fairly simple, but clear – give me another year and I’ll be able to cut in all the arteries and pumps!  I finished off with the classic ‘You Are Here’ sign, with an arrow pointing to the heart – a sweet and slightly different way to say ‘I Love You’!  Fancy doing your own??  Here’s a simple tutorial

YOU WILL NEED:

1 Piece of A4 Black Card

1 Piece of A4 Coloured Paper

1 Scrap Fabric – approximately A5 sized

A Craft Knife and Craft Mat

Superglue or Bonding Glue

1 Silver Pen

White Chalk (for drawing template – I find Tailor’s chalk really useful for getting clearer lines)

Patterned Washi Tape (optional)

METHOD:

Firstly, fold your blank black card in half, width ways and flatten out again.  With your chalk, draw out a rough template of your anatomical heart shape – I took to Pinterest for a bit of inspiration and found tonnes of pictures to help me!

Once you are happy with your template, Heart Card 3it’s time to get cutting on the craft mat – be careful to make small, sharp strokes and take your time as much as you can.  I used a medium blade on my craft knife, which is great for bold outlining.  Work your way around the template and, once you have finished, discard your inner template…or, indeed, keep it for more hearty crafts at a later date!  Using  your craft knife, tidy up any scrappy bits or paper frays that you didn’t quite get first time round.

At this point, if you are using washi tape (I had this lovely musical washi tape from an old project I did a couple of Christmasses ago), now is the time to stick it, in no particular order to your scrap of fabric – applying it afterwards might leave short joins when it is attached to the card.

Using your superglue or bonding glue (I use a great lightweight, heavy duty glue from Wilkos – just £1.50 and great for crafting), glue the edges of your chosen fabric to the inside of your black card, so that the heart shape is covered by your fabric.

To finish, glue your coloured paper over the top of the fabric, inside the card, and allow to dry for a couple of hours.  Once completed, all that’s left to do is write a decidedly soppy/unsoppy message and leave somewhere for your loved one to find next Friday!!

Hey…if you do decide to give this, or any of my other tutorials a go – I would LOVE for you to upload a picture on my Facebook page or to twitter – tagging @LivePeachy #FrugallyEverAfter – I love seeing my work in action!!

Stay Peachy x

Heart Card 1

 

 

 

 

The Frugal Kitchen: Easy Nutella Brownie Bites

brownies finished

If, like me, you felt a little cheated at finding out yesterday was ‘World Nutella Day, just a little too late; then I have JUST the frugal solution for you!

I am a huge fan of baking but, with watching my weight and all that, I tend to keep baking sweet treats to a minimum.brownies nutella  I think baking should always be simple and I’ve pratted about in the kitchen enough to be able to put together a simple cake or brownie recipe, adding bits to it when I fancy mixing the flavours up.  And that’s just what I’ve done with the THIRD OFF Nutella I picked up from the local Co-op this morning!

Not content with missing the ‘World Nutella Day’ event – obviously just an excuse to crack open the jar and eat straight from it – I thrashed together these simple little brownies which use very few ingredients and look FANTASTIC stacked with a little ribbon.  Are you thinking?? Yup – how about a little lunch box surprise for The Big V!  Why not give them a go yourself?  They’re easy to bake – just keep an eye on them in the oven as they cook pretty quickly!  Note: I have used the whole jar, partly because I can’t be trusted with it in the house!

I’ve popped a few prices down too – most ingredients are great to have in the house, in case of a sudden baking attack or the appearance of an unexpected guest!

Ingredients

1 x 400g Nutella (currently £1.56 at Co-op)

170g Caster Sugar (small 500g bag costs £1)

3 Medium Eggs (1 box of six costs 95p from Lidl)

50g Salted Butter (£1.02 basics range)

85g Self-Raising Flour (own-brand costs around 45p for 500g)

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract (£1.59 approx from local supermarkets)

PInch of salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 170C and line a square baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Over a saucepan of water, in a heatproof bowl, heat the butter and half the Nutella over a medium heat.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk the caster sugar, vanilla extract and 2 eggs until combined and smooth.  Once the Nutella and butter have melted together and softened – remove from heat and add, slowly to the sugar mixture.  Use the whisk to combine the mixtures together until smooth.

brownies collage

In a separate bowl, mix the flour and salt, then add, slowly to the mixture.  Fold together until the mixture is combined.  Spoon in most of the remaining Nutella and combine.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 20 minutes.  The brownie should be ready once it’s dark brown and a knife remains clean when stuck through the middle.

Leave to cool on a rack for a short while then, using a palette knife, spread the remaining Nutella on top of the brownie and cut into small sections.  If you want to pop these into a lunchbox or give as a little gift, why not stack a few and wrap with a pretty ribbon?

If not…sit back, enjoy with a hot cuppa and bask in the fact that World Nutella Day, in fact, is not yet over!!!!

Stay Peachy x

#CraftBlogClub Challenge: I Re-Love You

craftblogclub badgeOooooh look – a cheeky #CraftBlogClub post!  It has been a while since I launched a #CraftBlogClub challenge and a while since we have done one!  So, for February, may I introduce our crafty challenge….

‘I Re-Love You’!

Since the heady days of our Secret Santa challenge, #CraftBlogClub has gone from strength to strength and we have welcomed aboard some lovely new members!  I wanted to set a challenge to ease us all in to the New Year – I toyed with a Valentine’s theme and wanted to do something a little different. 

Before Christmas, we talked about what we would like to incorporate into future #CraftBlogClub challenges and the word ‘Upcycling’ came up A LOT.  So, with frugal in mind, February’s challenge is to upcycle and bring new life to an old piece of furniture or homeware!

Them’s The Rules.

I’ve kept the rules pretty basic – you can either purchase something or use something you have lying around the house.  I haven’t placed restrictions on this – but keeping to a budget would be advisable, for your own sake!

By furniture or homeware, I mean exactly that, furniture or homeware.  You can use a craft method you are already familiar with, or try something new.

As usual, when you have finished your piece, it would be great to write a post on your challenge and I will upload a post and provide a Linky for you to link your posts to. 

The deadline for ‘I Re-Love You’ is March 4th – so we have a month to upcycle and write a post on it!  

If you fancy joining in, to test your upcycling skills and get involved with some truly crafty talent, then we would love to have you!  Our challenges have been a great success so far and I am already looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!  Challenge posts and WIPs are also welcomed – just use the #CraftBlogClub hashtag and also #IReLoveYou to show everyone how you’re doing!! 

P.S The amazing new logo at the top of the page was designed by the lovely Icy Sedgwick and JUST as soon as I’ve worked it out, it will be the official badge of #CraftBlogClub for you all to display, proudly, on your blogs!  Once the teccy bit is all done – I shall pop it up for you all to grab!!

Stay Crafty x

Hello Frugal February….

100_0608Well, the cold really seems to have settled in and everyone is talking pastel palettes and Springtime already….what a weird and wonderful world we live in!  Hello February indeed!

Being on the opposite end of the Seasonal Affected Disorder spectrum, I like the cold and gloom a little more than most.  I love the dark winter nights, the warm casseroles and the general lack of going out – though it does get hard with a babe, who loves nothing more than trips to our local park to watch the rustling trees.  I brave the cold and rain and get on with it, then I relish with the home comforts of dry clothes, warm radiators and cosy socks. 

 Daisy windowJanuary went by in a flash, the easiest month of frugality indeed; everyone wants to save money after a Christmas blow-out, so it didn’t feel so different or difficult for me.  February, however, is a month of Birthdays, trips and meet-ups.  We are all awakening from our wintry slumber and are ready to face a bit of socialising. 

At the start of February, yesterday in fact, we celebrated Mr J’s Birthday!  This year was a quiet affair, but we did have babysitters and we did manage to head out to a local gig and had a delicious Sunday Roast with his family.  The most important gift you can give new parents, is the gift of time, people.  I also have my Step-Dad’s Birthday coming up towards the end of the month and, whilst I’m super-envious that he is embarking on a trip to Sweden – the holy land – in March, I want to put together something lovely for him!  Watch this space!

casserole pan

Not only that, but saving our bargain-hunting energy through January is really starting to pay off; look at this gorgeous *Brand New* casserole dish I found for £3 in a local charity shop!  And Mr J came home with this little bargain surprise for me tooelvis frame – a lovely retro print of Mr Presley – I’m still debating if I’m going to ask house guests to bless it as they enter the kitchen!!

So what else is coming in February???  Well, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’ve been putting together a couple of little, frugal ideas for the big day.  It probably won’t surprise you to know that me and Mr J aren’t so keen on the Big V.  Our first V Day was spent watching The Woman in Black, followed by a Hot White Choc at the wonderful Malt Cross – mostly to calm my nerves.  Last year, I dragged my bestie to Derby to a book signing with James Bowen and Bob the Street Cat.  Can you say Rock and Roll??!!

Amanda Cass - How to Mend a Broken Heart

Source: Amanda Cass – How to Mend a Broken Heart

Even so, I think it’s important to appreciate the little things in life and in your relationships and, this month, I’ll be posting a few little frugally fabulous ideas if you’re planning to acknowledge the Big V on a budget…look out for my ‘Frugally Ever After’ Posts coming in the following days….Hell, you don’t even need an occasion!

February also sees the first #CraftBlogClub challenge launched! This week, the lovely Katie from Katie Gets Crafty will be hosting AND launching the new challenge.  I’m excited and I hope you’ll join in the fun….I’ll be posting details tomorrow!

As if that isn’t enough fun for one month; one February 22nd I will be co-hosting our #MidsBlogMeet in Nottingham, a meet up for Lifestyle and Mummy Bloggers from the Midlands area.  I’m really excited to have organised this event with Kelly from To Become Mum and I’ll be sure to post some pics and updates of the event when it happens!!! Want to come along??? Read all about the event HERE and be sure to email while we still have a few places!

Aside from this, I’ll be getting my craft on ready for some big dates in March and I’m determined to make friends with my sewing machine…and I think I have the perfect tool to help me.  More on that later guys….I’m off to wrap up warm and hit the park.  

Before I go….. Did you enter my little handmade giveaway last week??? Well the winner of my little Oscar Mug Warmer is……….

MARGO PRICE

Congratulations – Please send an email to missemmaberry@gmail.com with your address and I’ll get the little man on his way to you!

oscar 3

Stay Peachy x