Tuesday, 24 February 2015

I have THE MOST amazing readers!!

Over recent months I've again been blown away by how amazing and clever and kind and lovely you, my readers, are.  In fact, some of my readers have even been kind enough to contact me and share what they've made using my tutorials.  

I can't tell you just how much it makes my day when I get an email from a lovely reader.  When I started this blog, my purpose was to be part of the online community of lovely crafty people around the world, and to share (for free) any design ideas (sewing, crochet, cooking or others) that I have had, or that have worked out well for me.  I know that I have appreciated how much knowledge and how many crafty skills I have gained from reading and following tutorials from some amazingly talented bloggers over the years.  So thank you so much for reading and for trusting my ideas enough to actually cut into those precious fabric stashes and have a go.  Here's some of the wonderful work of just a small number of my readers ...

Sue wrote to me just a couple of weeks ago.  She's a lovely Nana to a little 10-month-old baby girl, and was keen to try shirring for the first time.  Here's what she made using my Summer Dresses from Baby Wraps tutorial ... I think this is almost the cutest thing I've seen.  I love the colours, and that ric-rac at the bottom just totally does it for me!  Sue is now going to embellish a pair of tights for her granddaughter to wear under this dress when she is too tall for it, so it can be worn as a top.  What a great idea!!   That's the thing with shirring ... there's always plenty of room to grow!

Chiara made this beautiful version of the Change-Mat Clutch.  I love, love, love the fabric choice ... so pretty and effective:


Karen pinned on Pinterest with this cute and colourful version of the Matching Scraps Memory Game.  I especially love the rainbow polkadot envelope pouch.  Do you know ... Matching Scraps was my first ever tutorial, and still my absolutely most-read post ... I call that beginners luck.
Krysta posted about a gorgeous little church dress here.  She used my Summer Frills Tutorial, and I love how a design I had envisioned as a summer play dress has been adapted to a much more dressy church dress, just with a different fabric choice.  Check this one out, because Krysta's little girl is adorable!!

And of course, I'm sure you remember when I posted about these gorgeous Arial PJ's that Tasha made using my Hoot -Hoot Winter PJ tutorial.  This is another of the top hitters to date on my blog.  I love it when an idea resonates with lots of others, and I especially love how Tasha altered the top of her PJ's to match her sewing skills and abilities.  

Anyway, thank you to my amazingly talented readers who not only managed to decipher my waffling in the tutorials, but also managed to create some absolutely stunning pieces.  And if you have made something from one of my designs, please take a pic and email it to me (whatsmummyupto@gmail.com).  I love seeing what you've created, and it would be so much fun to do plenty more of these posts to show just how clever my readers are!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Free Recipe: Fat Free (almost) Doughnuts

So, what's better than a beautiful, almost fat-free doughnut fresh from your oven?


Why, a whole batch of them of course!  Yum!


I've seen a little influx of home-made doughnut recipes in blog-land lately, and decided I just had to give them a go.  I didn't have a doughnut pan, so I initially tried a recipe I found online and just piped little circles onto a cookie tray.  But of course, as they cooked they just puffed and joined together into a cookie-shaped doughnut-y biscuit.  I needed a doughnut-pan!

I found this one in BigW, so they're pretty readily available and not too pricey either which is always nice.  And don't worry, it'll get a lot of use once you taste this yummy recipe.

So, lots of the recipes I found online claimed to be 'healthy' because the doughnuts are "baked, not fried".  That's partly true right ... then I found a few that claimed to be 'healthier' because they also used wholemeal (whole wheat) flour, or because they minimised the fat by using yoghurt.  Then, in my attempt to minimise my mother-guilt at putting a doughnut-looking item in the kid's lunch boxes for school and pre-school ("junk food" in lunch-boxes is very frowned-upon at our pre-school and school, but that's no fun, right!), I decided I'd tweak the recipes even more, and managed to achieve super-yummy doughnuts, that look just as yummy as they taste, and have pretty much no fat (except the fat found in a couple of eggs).  Now, I'm not suggesting these are a health food, they do have some sugar (though I've minimised that as much as possible) and the icing is certainly sugar-laden (they are also yummy un-iced if you want to reduce sugar there), but it does have to be a better option that a regular doughnut, and most importantly, the kids love them (and I've eaten my fair share as well ... great with a cuppa after a long day ... just sayin'!)
And here's my recipe (this makes 24 doughnuts using my pan, which are a mini-doughnut).  It's pretty quick, doesn't require any electric mixers so can be cooked in the evening while the kiddies are in bed, without waking anyone up ... well, when else is there time to bake anyway?  But it's a great one for the kids to help with too if your kids love baking like mine do.
Ingredients:
- 1 cup plain (all-pupose) flour
- 1 cup plan (all-purpose) wholemeal flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 120g fat-free greek yoghurt
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup skim (0% fat) milk
- dash of vanilla essence/extract

Icing:
Pink - 1 cup icing sugar / icing mixture
        - 1 tablespoon (approx) tap water
        - 2-3 drops pink food colouring

Chocolate - 1 cup icing sugar
                 - 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
                 - 1 tablespoon (approx) tap water

Equipment Required:
- 2 large bowls
- wooden spoon
- whisk
- measuring cups/spoons
- doughnut pan
- 1 medium-sized clip-lock bag

Method:
1.  Into a bowl sift the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Ohhhh, it smells like doughnuts already!

2.  In another bowl, mix the eggs, caster sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until combined, then add the yoghurt and and whisk thoroughly until the sugars are dissolved (dip a finger in the mixture, then rub the mixture between your fingers.  If you can't feel any grainy sugar particles, you're good to go).

3. Add the milk and stir to combine.

4.  Carefully pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then mix until combined.  Try to beat out any lumps using your wooden spoon if there are any.

5.  Open your clip-lock bag.  We'll be using this as a piping bag, so to fill it I like to insert the bag into a coffee mug, and fold the edges back.  It keeps it open while your hands are busy scooping the mixture in (Daddy came up with this tip whilst making Macarons once ... clever Daddy!).  Scoop the mixture into your clip-lock bag, then close the top securely, squeezing out any air at the top as you close it.

6.  Choose a bottom corner,  and cut it off, approximately 1cm (3/8") from the tip of the corner.

7.  Grab your tin.  Now, if you're worried your doughnuts will stick you can spray the tin with some spray oil, but mine haven't been sticking so far and leaving the spray-oil out is another way to reduce the fat content.  I'll leave that up to you!!  Now simply pipe a little ring of mixture into each doughnut shape.  Try not to get too excited and add too much mixture, because they do rise a lot, and you don't want your doughnut holes to fill in.

8.  Put in a moderate oven (about 180 degrees celcius), and bake for approximately 15 minutes, until they're golden.  Remove them from the pan immediately to cool.  Now, they're amazing straight from the oven like this .... or so I'm told ... nope can't get away with that one ... I ate that one in the front ... it was good!!!

9.  Now for the icing (oh, and you need to let these babies cool completely before icing them, or it just drips off!)  Decide on pink or chocolate.  Sift the icing sugar (and cocoa if you're making chocolate) into a bowl.  Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix well.  Then continue mixing and adding water no more than a teaspoon at a time until to you have a consistency that is thick but runny.  If you're making pink, add the colouring and mix in well.

10.  Then just spread the icing onto your doughnuts or if your pink is runny enough you might be able to dip them into the icing.  If you like, you can then dip one side straight into some sprinkles or nuts (or if you don't care about the fat content maybe even some chocolate shavings or something).  Let your imagination run wild.  Oh, and the kids love this bit too.
And there you go ... a guilt-free almost fat-free doughnut that's super yummy.  They'd be great for the kids to take to school / pre-school instead of cupcakes for their birthday, and even (if you're living on the edge like me!) in the kid's lunch boxes for a not-too-unhealthy-but-looks-like-junkfood treat!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Christmas Swap Number 3: Sweet Pouch Swap

And my third and last swap for Christmas was the Christmas Sweet Pouch Swap.  This is hosted by one of my favourite Aussie bloggers, Ros from Sew Delicious.  She runs a few Sweet Pouch Swaps each year, where each participant makes a pouch of some kind and fills it with some sweets.  This is the first time I've done the Christmas one ... but you know being absolutely into the whole swappy thing this Christmas, I thought I'd give this one a go too.  I love a pouch swap, 'cause it's a nice quick sew but allows for lots of creativity and a chance to make another new friend.  
I was partnered with the lovely Jess from Queensland.  She's a school teacher and when we were chatting via email and facebook, she mentioned that she'd love a largish (that's totally a word!) pouch that she can use to carry stationary and supplies around school with her.  Now, I figured that this needed to be an every day fabric, not a Christmassy style, so I decided to go with some florals for the pouch, but to Christmas-ify (yep, that's totally a word too ...I'm on a roll tonight!) it with some Chrissy sweets .  I headed down to my local fabric store and spent about half an hour playing with different fabric combinations in the fat-quarter section until I ended up with these four fabrics.  I liked the colour combos, and thought they were pretty and cheerful to use whilst at work.
Then I spent a week or so pondering a style before I remembered that my lovely friend Robyn from Sewing the Seasons posted about this pouch recently.  Robyn's pouch was smaller, so I just upsized the squares to make the pouch a little larger.  I loved the simple yet attractive style, and the cris-cross quilting just gives that extra point of interest.  Thanks Robyn!
So to make this pouch, I cut 6 x 3.5" squares from each fabric, and laid them out until I liked the design.  I basically followed Robyn's instructions to construct the pouch, which came together really quickly and I also used Ros' tutorial here about getting zippers just right, which helped so much.  This would probably be the neatest zip I've done to date ... zips still scare the bejeezus out of me, but I'm working on that.  I recently bought a bulk lot of 40 random coloured zips on ebay for $7.  My goal is to zip it on up this year and cure my zip-phobia ... so look forward to lots of zippy projects coming during 2015 ... you've been warned!
Oh and I mentioned previously that you'd see this design coming up in a few projects.  This is the Love Dream Laugh embroidery design from Melly & Me, and I'm in love with it.  I thought it was a cute little off-centre touch to the front of this pouch, and maybe a little inspirational for Jess while she's hard at work with those kiddos in school ... since Bethany started school I have a whole new appreciation for our amazing teachers!

And do you want to see what absolute gorgeousness Jess sent to me? ...
Yep, I received this lovely retro-style fabric pouch, complete with magnetic clip (well done Jess .... I've not been brave enough to try those yet).  I adore this little beauty!  It's the perfect size for taking some hand stitching or crochet along with me when Hannah starts ballet this year and I have a very rare 30 minutes of complete me-time while I'm waiting for her outside her class.  Just think of the handmade lovelies I can enjoy creating with this little pouch to hold it all together for me!
And not to mention the yummy treats inside ... OK, there may have been a few more treats than this when the package arrived at my place ... Bethany and I enjoyed a few a lot of lollies and a movie together while Hannah slept that day!
My favourite part of this pouch is the edging ... swoon!  Love it ... so pretty and delicate.  I need to find me some of that for the stash me-thinks!  A massive thank you again Jess, and a shout-out thanks to Ros for hosting this one too!

Anyway, so that's the end of the Christmas swap news for me this year.  Planning on participating in a few more swap throughout the year, but haven't decided which ones as yet.  They're lots of fun.  I have to admit though I've missed my little-girl-clothes sewing, and have already jumped back into some cute projects for their summer wardrobes now that Hannah's birthday (2 days before Christmas) and Christmas are over, and we're enjoying our summer break from school.  I've even got a couple of tutorials in the pipe-line, so stay tuned!