Sunday, 29 September 2013

Chocolate Brownies: Autumn Styling

I have to confess that this is my second attempt at brownies in a week as I turned the first batch out of the tin too early, and they literally fell through my cooling rack! So, this time, I have cautiously left them in the tin until they have cooled before lifting them out, with the greaseproof paper.

The recipe I used is from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook , which has been reproduced by Red magazine here {there is also a printable version}. I have looked at so many brownie recipes over the last week, and all of them have different recipes! 

I love the fact that you don't need any fancy equipment. Once the butter and chocolate have melted, all  that is required is a bowl and a spoon, so this is ideal, if you are looking for a recipe that your children can help make. 

Cracking Brownies!

For an autumnal twist I created some leaf shapes in the centre of my brownies with two leaves picked from my garden, gently placed in the centre of the brownie and sprinkled icing sugar over it. The flaky top adds to the autumn feel!

Soft, moist and chewy chocolate brownies - delicious. Do you have any Autumn baking that you would like to share?

Love Mrs Jones x

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Make an Upcycled Necklace in 10 Minutes

When I first started selling my handmade goods, I made jewellery.  I am still getting packages of broken necklaces, beads etc. from friends and family - lucky me! 

I cut three pieces of cord (leather or hemp), so that it would slip over my head. I threaded the beads onto one piece of cord and tied a knot at each end of the beads. By folding one of the other pieces of cord, I tied this on at the knot, and repeated for the other side. 

Then tied all six ends together to sit around the back of the neck. You can vary the length to size. If you prefer a smaller necklace, you can attach cord ends to each cord and connect them with a jump ring and add a clasp.

Love Mrs Jones x

Friday, 20 September 2013

Reading Log April to September and Kindle Fire Offer

I set myself a reading challenge of 30 books this year, after failing to read my 40 books last year. I posted earlier in the year about the first five books I read, and here are my latest reads. I am currently 6 books behind on my target and as it is now September, I am not sure I will ever catch up!

One Day by David Nicholls
This is the story of Emma and Dexter who were together for a day on their last day at university, and how they meet every year on the same day, over the next twenty years.

The Clock Winder by Anne Tyler
A strange tale of Elizabeth who becomes a handyman for Mrs Emerson and how she tangles with the large dysfunctional family.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Charlie is a naive freshman who is shy and introspective. We know something has happened to him in the past but we don't know what. He strikes up a friendship with Patrick and his step-sister Sam, and they guide him through his first year. Even though it is about teenagers, it isn't exclusively to be read by teenagers. I loved it, and the film with Emma Watson is good too.

Foreign Bodes by Cynthia Ozick
Bea Nightingale is on a mission to rescue her nephew who she doesn't know, forced on her by her estranged brother Marvin. Ozick's writing is beautiful, but I didn't really like the story. 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
A brilliant novel about Patroclus and Achilles. After killing someone, Patroclus is forced to exit his family kingdom to live with Peleus. The two boys become great friends and later great lovers, and their bond is tested when they have to fight in the Trojan War.

Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver
Dellarobia who is trapped by her family life, is escaping when she sees that the forest is on fire. She returns and later discovers that the fire is actually a mass of butterflies. When the world takes an interest in this phenomenon and the scientists arrive, Della finds herself on an environmental mission which will change her life.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
The earth has started to slow down. Each day is a little longer than the last. The story follows Julia and her town as they try to cope with the changes. There is friction between those who keep clock time  (24 hour days) and those who keep real time - an ever stretching day.

Invisible by Cecily Paterson
Jazmine is deaf and her father is dead. She struggles to fit in at school - her mother likes to move area a lot. Jazmine mixes with some bad girls at first and they lead her to be involved with trashing the drama room. Whilst the bad girls are suspended from school, Jazmine is given a second chance.

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
The second in the Maddaddam trilogy. I tried to read this last year but failed. This runs parallel to Oryx and Cratke and is the story of the God's Gardeners group and how they face the waterless flood.  

The Lighthouse by Alison Moore
A quirky read about Futh whose mother leaves him and how everything he remembers about her affects his whole life. He keeps a silver lighthouse in his pocket which belonged to his mother and remembers the glass vial of perfume that used to be inside it. His obsession with his mother becomes his undoing.

I usually read a mix of real books and kindle books - I love the portability of the kindle, especially when you are on holiday and don't want to fill your suitcase with lots of heavy books. Amazon have reduced the price of their Kindle Fire from £129 to just £99!  What have you been reading?
Love Mrs Jones x

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Easy Brioche & Butter Pudding

I hate seeing things go to waste, especially when this involves food. And food is so expensive these days - in fact inflation is higher for food (at 4.1%) despite the overall inflation rate dropping! So, I found myself with half a pack of buttery brioche rolls on their sell by date. After checking carefully for signs of deterioration, I decided these would be good for a bread and butter pudding.

It's the Norm, has a great recipe for Brioche & Butter Pudding, and this is the one I have used. Some recipes call for making the custard first, but this recipe seems much more logical. I used half the recipe because I only had half a pack of rolls!

Half a bag of brioche rolls
2 eggs
25g sugar
350ml milk
50ml double cream
A couple of drops of vanilla essence
Dried or fresh fruit are optional. 

1. Break the brioche rolls into pieces (3 pieces per roll on average) and arrange in an ovenproof dish.

2. Whisk up the eggs and add in the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla. Whisk again until thoroughly mixed. Pour this over your brioche rolls and leave for an hour for it to soak.

3. Preheat the oven to 180c. Sprinkle a little cinnamon over the top of the dish if you wish and pop in the oven. Cook for about 40 minutes and leave to cool a little before serving with some cream!

Mrs Jones x

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

How I wish I could make beautiful cakes...

Today, my eldest son, Albert is 16! I have been planning to make a birthday cake for the last couple of weeks, and have been gathering up supplies or red sugar-paste and tubes of writing icing. The idea was to make a Liverpool FC shirt cake. You can buy shirt shaped tins (complete with muscle definition), but my thoughts were that a) it's too expensive and b) I could probably wing it with a rectangular tin and cupcake combo!

Making the cake was the easy bit: 225g butter, sugar and flour and 4 eggs. I poured this into two cupcake cases and the rectangular tin. I searched the Internet for the right sized mixture for the tin I have, but I could only find recipes for round or square cakes, so I guessed!

Whilst it was cooking, I prepared the background board by marking out a football pitch in pencil on some baking parchment, then turning it over and attaching it to a wooden chopping board.

Once the cake was cooked (30 minutes), and cooled on a rack, I sliced it in half. I have never done this before and I was surprised that the whole cake didn't collapse. I covered one half in butter cream and the other in raspberry jam. With the two cupcakes, I sliced them about a third in and adjoined them to the main cake with some butter cream. They look ridiculous at this stage.

The icing started off as a bright poppy red, but because when you roll it out, you have to sprinkle the work surface with icing sugar, the colour become less and less vivid. I re-rolled it three times to get the right shape, so this didn't help with the colour dilution! And basically, it all started to go downhill from there as you can see!

It's not too bad if you squint at it! Anyway, this whole thing reminds me of a blog which I used to read a lot and laugh a lot at - Cake Wrecks - hilarious cakes gone wrong. Let's hope mine does not feature!

Mrs Jones x

P.S. I am sure it will taste better than it looks!!! 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

5 Great Autumn Craft Projects

There is no denying that there is that hint of Back to School/Autumn weather creeping in. Here are some great projects that will get you in the mood for Autumn.

1. Fabric Acorns
I love these pretties, combining fabric scraps and real acorn cups from Zemphira's Creations. They would look great as an interesting table centrepiece.


2. Scrap Buster Fall Pillow
Even the smallest scrap of fabric could be put to use in this cushion by Cluck Cluck Sew. I would love to make one for each season.


3. Felt Acorns 
I am an avid follower of Owen's Olivia - she is an awesome blogger - here are her felt acorns in some great autumn colours.


4. Fox Lamp
This is a brilliant tutorial for turning a stuffed animal into a lamp (and a link to the Etsy shop where you can purchase the pdf). Totally inspired craft project by Matsutake.


5. Leaf Necklace
I love the colours in this felt necklace by Lisa Storms, and you could add in a variety of leaf shapes.


I hope you are inspired by these great Autumn craft projects too. If you have a great Autumn project that you would like to share, post the link with a comment below.

Love Mrs Jones x