Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Mor Monsen - Norwegian Lemon, Almond and Currant Cake

This recipe is from Signe Johansen's Scandilicous, which I looked at on this blog earlier this month. A deliciously moist cake with a sparse amount of currants or sultanas. It could easily work as both a tea time treat and a dessert with custard or cream.

My son couldn't resist a bite before I took the photo!
I am not going to reproduce the recipe here, for copyright reasons, but here is a link to another Mor Monsen recipe. If you are interested in more of Signe's recipes:

Monday, 30 July 2012

Normandy 2012: the holiday post

I love France and it is no surprise to find us holidaying in Normandy this year. The gite that we booked was part of a farm, which was a new thing for us - we had Sweetie the donkey in the field next to us and were able to obtain milk straight from the farm each evening. Here is my holiday journal.
The gite - for details of hiring see end of post
Sunday 22nd July 2012
We headed out to the beach at St Pair sur Mer on the west coast of Normandy, (the Michelin guide said it had golden sand). The sand was golden, but it was part sand, part shoal, and the sea was beautifully shallow. There is also an open swimming pool filled with sea water when the tide has gone out far enough. 

St Pair sur Mer
The little town was buzzing with activity, and we had to queue to enter the boulangerie for our filled baguette lunch.

Monday 23rd July 2012
Another hot day. Went to a local reservoir in the morning called Dathee, where we hired pedaloes. There were no other people on the lake, so it was a really peaceful setting. After returning to the gite for lunch, we visited the forest at St Sever Calvados, first to an arboretum, which was a little neglected, and on to a smaller lake.
Albert and his friend, Dathee
Tuesday 24th July 2012
An early start to our trip to Mont St Michel. It is a tourist hot spot in the summer and can be almost unbearable when it is hot. The previous time we had visited, we only had Albert and he was still in a pushchair! The parking is now a long way from the actual island and it is a long hot walk (I would advise anyone to catch one of the free buses, which we should have done!). 
Mont St Michel - this photo was taken on the walk from the car park - I told you it was far!
It is a spectacular place to visit though, and is great fun wandering through the alleyways and up and down the stairs and in and out of the nooks and crannies, seeking any small patch of shade. We found a tiny little bar selling hot dogs for lunch. Although Mont St Michel is an old site, it has it's own post office and atm machines! As we were leaving, I told my husband that next time we go, we will stay overnight in one of the hotels there.

We drove via St Hilaire Harcouet to Mortain where there are a couple of waterfalls to visit.
Wednesday 25th July 2012
We visited one of our favourite places, Arromanches les Bains which has the famous floating harbour from World War II. It is a buzzing seaside town with many tourists, especially Americans because of the WWII connection. Unfortunately for us, the tide was completely up to the sea wall, so after playing mini golf we popped over to the beach at Courseulles sur Mer (Juno Beach).

Thursday 26th July 2012
On a mission to find the toy shop chain, Joue Club and the sports shop, Decathlon today for some holiday purchases. We found the nearest Joue Club in our nearest town, Vire - they are typically large out of town stores with masses of toys - heaven for children (and adults). We tried to like Vire, but even the castle ruin was unattractive. The Decathlon was in the neighbouring town of Flers, which also had a castle. So we had a little look around that before going to Decathlon for a Rip-Stik!

Friday 27th July 2012
Our final whole day in France. As the day started a little overcast, we went to the zoo at Champrepus. A lovely little zoo with all the usual animals. The children, big and small, loved it.

In the evening, we had a tour of the farm by Mme Lelouvier and her English daughter in law, Janine. It was fascinating - from the newly born calf, to baby ducklings, to the family graveyard. Later still we were invited for an aperitif with them. We started with Cassis with homemade cider, then onto Pommeau and then to Calvados. Wow!

If you would like to rent the gite at Landelles et Coupigny, you can do so through Brittany Ferries. We have been to Normandy many times, but this is a very special gite.

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Ice Cream Birthday Card

It's my niece's birthday in a couple of weeks time, and because I am, for once, organized enough to have bought her present already, I thought I would make the card now and post it off early. So, as my washing machine works hard with my post holiday laundry, I found a little time to make this.

I used the papers with issue 13 of Craftseller magazine, creating a ice-cream to echo the back paper. It must be so nice to have a birthday in the summer - mine is 5 days before Christmas! 

Love Mrs Jones x

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Back Home

I have spent the last week in a beautiful gite in Normandy, France with my family, hence only the one scheduled post recently. We returned today, all sunkissed and laden with French wine and biscuits. I am a little tired for a full post today, but here is a sneak peek of my holiday:

This is me, looking completely dishevelled having a ride with Nicole, the owner of the house we stayed in, and Sweetie the donkey!

Mrs Jones x

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Ferry Travel Tips for Families

Over the last 15 years or so, the majority of our holidays have involved cross channel ferry travel, either to France or Spain. I thought I would share my tips on how to have a stress free journey.

When you are packing up your car full of suitcases etc, remember to keep a rucsac or holdall separate for the ferry that is easy to access. Depending on the age of your children, pack it with food, drink and plenty of things to keep them occupied - puzzle books, colouring book, handheld games consoles etc. I used to buy little craft packs from the supermarket to tuck in the bag too. You will also need your passports on board with you, if you think you will want to buy any duty free items. When your car boards the ferry, you have very little time and space to exit the car with your belongings, so make sure this bag ready to grab quickly (ie. not in the boot!). No access is allowed to the car decks once the ferry is sailing.

Allow plenty of time to travel to the ferry port. You need to arrive at least 45 minutes before your sailing (this will depend on your ferry company). Have all your travel documents in one place and to hand. This year, as our ferry leaves early in the morning, I have frozen a bag of chocolate chip brioche ready for breakfast whilst we are waiting at the port.

If you can afford it, book a cabin, even if it isn't an overnight ferry. Just having a space of your own away from the hubbub of the ferry is bliss, and you can have a nap and a shower to freshen up. If you are going overnight, I would definitely recommend a deluxe cabin which is more like a hotel room, and has a fridge with goodies and you have extra privileges such as breakfast in bed and reserving a table at the restaurant. 

If you have children who get travel sick, be prepared. Pack a change of clothes for them in your ferry bag, dose them up with travel sickness tablets and grab some seasick bags. Keep them still until the tablet takes effect. Considering how often we travel by sea, I do not have sea legs and spent 18 hours in bed on last year's ferry trip to Spain.

With a baby, you can buy both disposable bottles and pre-mixed formula. There is usually a microwave for warming bottles near the self service restaurant.Check beforehand on whether you can borrow a cot, or bring your own.

Think about meal times well ahead of time. Especially in Summer, the restaurants can get really busy at meal times, so be prepared to eat a little earlier or later than usual, and if you are prone to seasickness, keep your meals fresh and light.

Explore the ferry - it can be nice to go out on deck to see if you can see land yet, or sea life. Some ferries have cinemas and swimming pools, and most have a room with young children's activities.Teenagers are likely to want to explore on their own or with siblings - make sure you have a rendez vous point and that they know what to do if they get lost. 

Love Mrs Jones x

PS. I would love you to add your own tips in the Comments.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Holiday Reads 2012

I love reading on holiday, a chilled glass of wine in one hand, book in the other! My choices for this holiday are:
  • Last Night in Twisted River by John Iriving - one of my alltime favourite authors. I am already about a third of the way through but as you can see, it is a large book. He is very good at developing characters. This book is about a cook and his 12 year old son who mistakes the cook's girlfriend for a bear and kills her, and their subsequent life on the run. John Iriving has a thing for bears.
  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. I have read both his previous novels, The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex. Both are very unusual,and I am hoping this one will be too.
  • Michelen guide to Normandy has seen us through many a holiday, and I have been writing comments and adding leaflets to it since I bought it. So it has now become more of a compendium and is an essential part of my holiday reading.
  • Boy Racer -This is my husband's reading choice, but as we both love the Tour de France, I will be happy to read it if I run out of reading material.
I am also taking the latest copies of Craftseller, Psychologies, Red and Empire.

So, what are you reading this summer, share with me your recommendations.

Love Mrs Jones x

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

My Recipe Book

I was adding in some recipes from the Scandilicious book (see yesterday) and thought I would share it with you. I have been adding recipes to it for about 15 years, and you know how it is when you fall in and out of love with a recipe, well some of the recipes don't even reflect what I eat now. As well as writing them in the book, I have also been illustrating the pages. The book itself is a hardbook watercolour book by Daler-Rowney so I knew it would withstand the watercolour.
Samaki Jackson - I believe it is an African recipe, but we had this at a friends for dinner and I took the recipe down.

Chives, the recipe is Brie and Chive pasties

A very Somerset recipe: Sausage and cider casserole

Love Mrs Jones x

Monday, 16 July 2012

Scandilicious by Signe Johansen

I have been lent the most fabulous Scandilicious (secrets of Scandinavian Cooking) by Signe Johansen by a friend. Signe was brought up in Norway, but now lives in Britain and has trained at the Leith's cookery school and worked at Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck. There are the most delicious looking recipes, with great photography and some fabulous illustrations at the beginning of each section, and Signe herself looks gorgeous. Here's a sneek peek:

Obviously, being a complete cake and dessert lover, these were the sections that I went for first! I found a recipe for Daim (Dime bar) Cake - Daim are one of my favourite chocolate bars- which I am going to try when I am home from my holiday - so look out for the results here in August, and I also will probably try the Norwegian cinnamon buns.

I would love to hear if you have made any of the recipes from this book and what you thought of them. To view the book on Amazon, please click on the link below:

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Teacher Gift

To go with the Thank you teacher card that I made last week, I have continued the apple theme with this apple pencil case. The apple fabric is german and was purchased from Celtic Fusion Fabrics who have a lovely selection of cotton fat quarters. It also comes in a red apple colourway - so you can make your choice on whether you prefer green or red apples!

I am sure Fred's teacher will love it, and it feels good to give a handmade gift.

Monday sees the return of Albert from his trip to the Ardeche. I really hope he comes home happy, that he's had a fab time and has lots of stories and photos to share. 

Love Mrs Jones x

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Folksy Friday Summer Pudding a recipe

1kg of the following fruit, 140g caster sugar and sliced white bread


Under the Eaves Ruffle Shop Nicola Haisley Gifts A Farmers Daughter Caractacus Pots Penny Spooner Ceramics 
1. Wash and prepare the fruit and put in a pan with a little water and the sugar. Heat until the juices start to come out.
2. Prepare your sliced bread to line your pudding basin - you want to remove crusts. Don't worry if its not an exact fit as the bread will swell wil juice. Put the bread in place.
3. Pour the fruit and juice into the basin and top with one last piece of bread.
4. Add a plate to the top of the basin, with something heavy to weigh it down.
5. Put in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.
6. To serve, carefully upturn onto a plate and cut into slices and serve with cream.

Folksy credits:
Strawberry: Under the Eaves
Raspberry: Ruffle Shop
Blackberry: Nicola Haisley Gifts
Damson: A Farmer's Daughter
Bread (baking dish): Caractacus Pots
Sugar (bowl): Penny Spooner Ceramics

Love Mrs Jones x

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Search Ads on Etsy

A while ago I paid for a weeks's worth of Search Ads on my Etsy store, as a promotion exercise. I just wanted to see what sort of results it would come up with, and I thought I would share the results with you. My Etsy store has just 12 items in it ranging from jewellery to nursery cushions.

You can choose to use all of your tags in the ads or edit them as you see fit.

So, for 6.51 dollars (about £4), I had over 8,000 impressions, but only 14 views and 2 favourites. However, I don't know whether it was a coincidence, but shortly after I had a query about one of my cushions from a US customer who wanted two and then bought them.

My results weren't great but as each item and search term is broken down over impressions and views, I can now see where items need better tags and descriptions and what doesn't. Once my shop is fully stocked I may try it again.

Love Mrs Jones x

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Holiday Countdown

With one and a bit weeks until school breaks for summer, I am on holiday countdown. This year, we are going back to Normandy, France after a break of two years when we went to the Loire (2010) and Northern Spain (2011). My holiday heart is in France - I just love it.

Below is a photo of the gite that we are staying in!The gite is on a farm where they make their own cider and have dairy cows. What could be better!

 I have my fingers crossed that the weather will think we need a break and give us some sunshine while we are away. 

Love Mrs Jones x

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Ombre Nails?

I have seen a few posts with the most glorious ombre nails in mint green and pale blue and so on. I thought I would try this myself, but I only have pink nail varnish - varying from pale pink to crimson. So I had to pick colours from my existing polish. Well, I'm not sure it was too successful , although my son says it look kinda cool. 
I'll see how it goes in the office today before removing. The darker colour is Boots no 7 Raspberry Mocha, and the lighter is also Boots natural collection Pink Manicure. 

Love Mrs Jones x

Monday, 9 July 2012

Cherry Bakewell Cupcakes

Yesterday, I made a batch of these yummy cupcakes - I just had a need for something sweet! I used a standard plain cupcake recipe and added the cherry bakewell taste to it.

Cooking note: I almost always use a handheld electric whisk when making cakes, although you could do these by hand, or via a food processor.

100g caster sugar
100g butter
100g self raising flour
2 eggs
Almond essence
125g icing sugar
6 glace cherries

1. Put the sugar and butter in a bowl and cream together.

2. Add eggs one at a time an mix thoroughly.

3. Sift in the flour in two or three goes, folding in after each sift.

4. Add roughly half a lid of almond essence, or more or less to your personal taste.

5. Bake in the oven in paper cases at 190C for 15-20 minutes. They will be golden on the top.

6. When cooked turn onto a wire rack to cool.

7. Meanwhile mix up glace icing by sifting 125g icing sugar in a bowl and added 15ml of warm water. Add more water until it is a thick but spreadable consistency. Alternatively, you could add some almond essence here too.

8. Using the back of a spoon, spread the icing over each cake and top with a halved cherry.It helps if the cakes are a little warm.

Next time I make this, I am going to experiment with adding a little ground almond to the sponge.

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Thank you Teacher card

As it is only two week until the end of term, I thought I ought to get cracking with a Thank you teacher card. I'm sorry it's such a poor photo. 

The papers used have come from a Papermania paper pack called Happy Birthday to You which had been marked down in my local craft shop to just £3. I used a leaf from a tiny scrap of Tanya Whelan fabric that I had left over from another project, and a little red button to finish it off.

I have spent the day packing a suitcase for Albert who is off to France on an activity holiday with school this evening. 

Love Mrs Jones x

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Tour de France 2012

I am loving the Tour de France - it always makes me feel that the holidays are near. In celebration of this, I have created a little Etsy Treasury. Fingers crossed for Bradley Wiggins!

Love Mrs Jones x

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Free Summer 2012 Colouring Printable

I thought that creating a little colouring sheet for Summer would be fun, especially as we haven't had much of a summer yet. This will hopefully be a fun thing to do with your children during the holidays on a rainy day, as I am sure we will have plenty.

However, as it is the first time I have ever done this, it isn't as strictly professional looking as I would like, note the lines where I pasted the text onto the image! Feel free to share with friends for their own use only (ie. please don't pass it off as your own work or sell it).

And please give me feedback if you loved/hated it!

Love Mrs Jones x

PS. The download is via Scribd.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Drawstring Bag Tutorial

Following on from the drawstring bag that I made in June, I thought I would post a tutorial. In this tutorial I am making a little bag for my sunglasses.

1.If you are making this for something specific, you do need to measure it first (!) and add 10 cm to the length. Cut out two pieces of fabric to the required size and iron. Then, with the back of the fabric facing, fold about 5cm length in iron, as the image shows.
 2. Then fold the top of the fabric down by 2.5cm and press, then fold it once more to make the tube for the ribbon or cord to go through. Iron well and do the same for the other piece of fabric. Stitch along the bottom edge of the fold on each piece of fabric in turn.
 3. Then place the two pieces of fabric pattern sides together and pin. Start sewing below the folds right round to the fold on the other side. Cut the corners off the bottom and turn right side out.

 4. Pin a large safety pin to your ribbon or cord and start feeding it through the tubes, using the safety pin as a shuttle. Once the two ribbon ends are together, tie a tight knot. Iron the bag again - ironing at each stage is essential for a professional look.
 5. Cute and stylish drawstring bag, that you can make in every size imaginable!
Love Mrs Jones x

Monday, 2 July 2012

Kindle Cases

Oh, what a ridiculous day it has been. I work from home on Mondays, but as I changed my password on Friday, I forgot it today, and fixing it involved a 40 mile round trip to the office and back.

I am pleased though, that this evening I have been able to finish the Kindle case orders. The London one I made over the weekend and the turquoise one today. I have always found it a bit awkward on the flap, and today I had a brainwave how to resolve it, hence the different shapes.

I love the London fabric from Benartex - I have already made a cushion and a little case from my DS in it. The other case is Summersault by Erin McMorris and again I have already made a cushion for my bedroom in this fabric. I have also had a green colourway of it. My only concern now is that the cases fit, especially it the first time I have made a case for the Kindle with the keyboard.

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Gooseberry Fool

I have trawled the internet on the basic recipe for gooseberry fool, and there are so many variations, some with greek yoghurt, creme fraiche, others with elderflower. So I took the things I liked from the different recipes and this is the result.

250g gooseberries
Caster sugar
300g double or whipping cream
Icing sugar
Raspberries (optional)

1. Rinse the gooseberries and top and tail them and pop them in a saucepan

2. Add 4-5 dessert spoons of caster sugar. I added three at the start and a couple more to taste as the gooseberries cooked. Cook on a low heat. If your gooseberries are taking a while to burst and the pan is a little dry, you can add a little water.

3. Start mashing the mixture with a potato masher. When the gooseberry concotion is bubbling and is relatively consistent texture. Take off the heat.

4. Have a sieve ready over a bowl and pour the gooseberries into it. This gets rid of all the pips etc.

5. Wait for this to cool then pop in the fridge.

6. In a separate bowl add the cream and 2-3 dessert spoons of icing sugar. Whisk until it holds its shape.

7. To assemble, you can either mix the two bowls together, or what I have done is first add a couple of spoonfuls of the cream in the bottom of a glass, then add the same of the gooseberry mix. Then mix the remaining bowls together and pour in the top. Top it off with a raspberry and some icing sugar.

Now, I still have roughly 200g of gooseberries left, so I am going to have to find another recipe!

Love Mrs Jones x

PS. My martini glasses are Schott Zweisel and you can get similar here.