Monday, 25 April 2011

Tote Bags - Large and Small

My 8yo daughter had been invited to her classmates birthday party.  We were going to give her some of our Fairy Bears books that both older girls had read but were still in fairly new condition.  I decided to make her a little fabric tote to put the books in.  It took an hour in total from when I liberated the scrap of daisy fabric from my stash to when I snipped the last lose thread once I'd finished sewing.  It was so quick and easy to make up. 

Here is a really dodgy photo of the tote I took on the way out the door to the birthday party.

Once the other parents at the party discovered that I had made the bag (thanks to my 8yo chatterbox), I immediately had 6 orders for them.  I only made one as we had run out of wrapping paper and I was too lazy to battle the supermarket for more I thought it would be a handy bag for the books to be carried in that would double as a girlie handbag.  I told the other parents that I may make more and sell them at the school Summer Fair or they can pop around for a cuppa and select fabric from my stock and I will make one for them to purchase. 

I had no intention of making and selling these bags as a source of income.  But after thinking about it for a bit I decided to make two more bags.  One adult one for myself and one more small girls tote.  I'm using to test the market.  When school starts back this week I shall be carrying my tote and wait to see if other Mum's in the playground demand to know where it's from like it and want one too.  My youngest will be using the other one to carry her snacks to Nursery in.  Perhaps the other girls at Nursery will pester ask their parents for one if they like hers.

Here are the two other totes I made:

Many thanks to my husband for taking the photos and making the totes look good. 

It's really mind blowing that a new source of income can come from something as totally innocent as running out of wrapping paper and sewing a simple fabric bag.

I make them because I enjoy sewing and they're really easy to make.  I'll probably get bored if I make too many though.  I'm sure I can make other bags and will probably get a pattern book cheaply and experiment. 

Has anyone else stumbled upon a new income source completely out of the blue? What did you do and how did you manage to find the time to explore it whilst keeping everything else in your life on track?

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Choc Orange Butter Biscuits - Easter Gift

We needed an alternative Easter gift for out neighbours who didn't want chocolate eggs.  The girls and I decided to make these biscuits and put them in a lovely tin we bought from a charity shop and tissue paper that almost matches.  They especially enjoyed piping the dough on to the trays.  It was so easy that they all could have a go, even my 4yo is now a dab hand at piping.

300g softened butter, preferably unsalted

1 cup icing sugar

1 egg

grated rind 2 oranges

½ cup cocoa

2½ cups flour


100g butter

1½ cups icing sugar

50g dark chocolate, melted and cooled

few drops vanilla essence

about 1-2 Tbsp milk

Beat the butter and icing sugar together until light and creamy. Beat in the egg and orange rind.

Sift the cocoa and flour evenly over the top of the creamed mixture and stir together gently.

Put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle and pipe medium-size rosettes onto a greased baking tray. Bake at 180ÂșC for 12-15 minutes. Cool on a cake rack.

Sandwich biscuits together with icing, if wished. To make icing, beat the butter until it is pale and fluffy. Sift the icing sugar and beat into the creamed butter with the chocolate, vanilla essence and sufficient milk until you have a fluffy light mixture. Store biscuits in an airtight container.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Iced Spiced Buns

Twas my husbands birthday early last week and instead of a cake he decided that a batch of my secret recipe Chocolate Brownies and a batch of Iced, Spiced Buns would suffice.  My three lovely daughters helped me make the buns.  Here's the recipe I used:

225g (8oz) strong white bread flour

25g (1oz) caster sugar

25g (1oz) softened butter

1 1/2 tsp fast action dried yeast

1 medium egg, beaten

90ml (3 fl oz) warm semi-skimmed milk

1 teaspoon of mixed spice

1/2 - 1 cup of raisins

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, mixed spice, and yeast into a mixing bowl (I usually use my stand mixer with a dough hook). Make a well in the centre and add the softened butter, egg and milk. Mix to make a soft dough, add the raisins and knead them into the dough. Knead the dough until its smooth and springs back when lightly pressed with a floured finger. My daughters decided to knead the dough themselves and it took them around 15 minutes to get a nice smooth, soft dough.

We put the dough into a lightly greased bowl, covered it with clingfilm and left it to prove until it had doubled in size. 

Once the dough had proved, we lightly floured the bench and shaped the dough into buns.  We put the buns onto the oven tray, covered them with greased clingfilm to stop it sticking to the buns and left them to prove once again.  When they had doubled in size we baked them in a 180 degree fan oven, for about 15-20 minutes.  

Once they were cooked, we left them to cool on a wire rack, and iced them with vanilla icing. 

Here are the finished buns, they didn't last long. The whole batch was eaten that evening.