Flying Ducks craft kit from The Makery

wpid-20150531_161135.jpg

This craft kit looked like a box full of absolute fun when I first spotted it in the John Lewis store at Oxford Street. Kitsch and classic at the same time, using a sewing machine? Sold!!

I confess it was a little daunting at first as I saw the pattern sheet before the instructions when I opened the box. A quick glance through the instructions, however, revealed that as long you can trace patterns and sew seams, the ducks are relatively easy to put together.  The instructions itself were clear, and I started off with the largest duck on The Makery’s advice that it would be the least fiddly. The tracing was slightly tedious as there are many parts, but once you match up the material and stuff in the wadding, it all becomes smooth sailing and in fact you don’t really need to refer to the instructions as everything falls into place logically.

wpid-img_20150512_122136.jpg

There is some hand sewing involved along the top of the duck when you sew in the wings. The kit comes with a needle and thread for this, as well as the flowery fabric that you see for the duck, as well as felt material for the beak and legs.

wpid-img_20150512_122431.jpg

 

The kit also contains a polka dot material to differentiate the front from the back of the duck. It’ a nice effect.

wpid-20150528_195214.jpg

 

You can hang the ducks up on a wall and the kit comes with an aid for this. However, I discovered that the size and shape of the duck is actually perfect for Boop – just the right size for him to grab and play with, with a lot more surface area for him to grab and throw around than say, a teddy bear.

wpid-20150528_195212.jpg

(Yes that’s my dog lying in front of him watching duck playtime).

wpid-20150528_195250.jpgThe beauty of this craft kit from The Makery is that it taught me how to put together a soft toy and/or 3D craft project. I’ve made dog pillows before with wadding, but it just never struck me that if I pushed myself that bit more, I could create something as beautiful as this flying duck that my baby is having so much fun with (and which is helping him develop his fine motor skills!).  For some reason, I just thought that making soft toys like ducks and other animals were just hugely complicated and so I never really bothered to see if I could make them.

wpid-20150524_095327.jpg

I’m now scouring the internet as well as Pinterest for crafting patterns to put together. There are some fun ones, like a giant squid sleeping bolster in the shape of Cthulhu. I have yet to put together the remaining two flying ducks, partly because I’m still relishing the creative experience and partly because I’m in the midst of moving halfway across the world to London.

wpid-20150524_094923.jpg

I would encourage anyone to reach out for a kit by The Makery (and no, this is not a sponsored post). The beauty of these kits, is that it not only teaches you new skills, but also piques your innate creativity to encourage you to go beyond the project itself, to explore the world of sewing and craft. So go on!  And make something today 🙂 #MakeryMakes.

Edna Lewis’s Deep Fried Chicken

There’s nothing quite like that twinge of yearning in your stomach when someone mentions deep fried chicken.

wpid-img_20150518_130949.jpg

The smell of fried chicken stirs memories of primary school recess time, lazy afternoons with two cats meowing at my feet, and huddling up on Friday nights watching a B grade thriller DVD.

wpid-20150522_113716.jpg

Therein lies the almost universal appeal of fried chicken (if you eat meat). It’s everyone’s best friend, comfort food, emotional clutch. Can be eaten either hot or cold. Immediate, greasy, delicious, satisfying.

wpid-20150522_181242.jpg

Edna Lewis’s deep fried chicken recipe calls for an overnight soak in brine, followed by an 8 hour dip in buttermilk. You then fry the chicken in lard, butter, and country ham. I’ve done this recipe both with the overnight soak and a shorter stint (about 3 hours) in buttermilk as some chefs claim the second step is not as necessary as the first. I, however, find that Edna’s 8 hour soak in buttermilk does make a more flavorful meat.

I skipped using lard as it isnt easily obtainable in my local supermarket. I also used back bacon instead of ham. The results are nonetheless stunning. Chicken being deep fried in ounces and ounces of golden butter is a smell that can drive ants crazy.

Good things come to those who wait. And this holds true for this recipe. Try it. Colonel Sanders will be out of business from you.

Review of Simplicity 1566A dungaree pattern

 

Ain’t he cute? LOL. The shameless motherly adulation of her lovely first born son 😉

I was gifted this Simplicity pattern pack 3 months ago but spent a month faffing about and then another 2 months getting visas processed and movers hired. And then when I cut out all the pattern pieces I realised I had run out of poppers. Then when I came back from the shop I promptly broke my rotary cutter! Anyway, tools sorted out, this was a very very easy pattern to put together. In all fairness, it isnt quite a traditional dungaree that comes with a pinafore top (e.g. the one that was sewn on Season 2 of #GBSB). I prefer that pattern, but thought this was cute in its own way and frankly, it also makes a more comfortable fit as you can use knit fabric instead of the usual fabric choices of denim or corduroy. Conversely, this also makes it less ‘formal’ but I find that since babies grow so fast, its fun to sew patterns like this for him to run about in at home thus maximising the cuteness factor!

A few mistakes with this one – the pattern didnt match across the dungarees. The buttons and buttonholes were reversed but I thought that was a little negligible in the name of fashion progressiveness. The pattern calls for snap tape to be sewn into the diaper opening of the dungarees, but you can’t find snap tape for the love of God in Singapore so I just sewed in bias binding and then put in the snaps.

The pattern also provides the option of sewing a star applique on each leg, but I really (like really!) do not like sewing appliques as I find it way too tedious. But I can easily see how it would look oh-so-cute especially on stretch denim.

I usually put Boop straight into this without a onesie as it can get very hot in the afternoons. So far I’ve had no screams of protests and both snaps and buttons are still sturdy. I plan to make this again for Christmas as it will be cold by then and dungarees will come in very useful.

A small claim to fame – so I tweeted this pic of Boop to @Simplicity and it got retweeted as Simplicity’s Tweet of the Day!! Now how cool is that for an 8 month old baby ! 😉

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake on a Saturday evening

I’ve been meaning to try the Grapefruit Olive Oil cake by Casa Yellow for the longest time. I finally got to do so last weekend with some close and very treasured friends who collectively brought champagne, a brunello and a 1998 bordeaux to go along with dinner. We were all very happy by the time dessert came around, but I do remember more than a few sighs of contentment.

The recipe can be found here. Do note, however, that oven temperature should be 350 F not degrees. I have never been a fan of grapefruit and have probably only consumed it twice in my life. But I have an open mind when it comes to transforming key ingredients into something unexpected and thoroughly delightful. Like this cake. wpid-20150516_152054.jpg

It’s very, very straightforward cake to bake and rose perfectly in the oven. I know there are some die-hard bakers out there who will balk at using olive oil with cake, but I’m a progressive when it comes to cake baking having encountered so many soggy bottoms with traditional recipes like the tipsy cake.

wpid-20150516_152505.jpg

As I baked this in the afternoon way before dinner, there was no temptation to rush to put on the glaze and so I managed to tilt it out perfectly without any crumbly bits falling out.

wpid-20150516_225312.jpg

I mixed in a little too much muscovado sugar for the glaze, but altogether, this made a unique cake with bittersweet undertones on the palette that’s quite unlike the usual vanilla, chocolate, or uber-trendy salted caramel base. I would make this again, but perhaps experiment with combining an herbal-based liquid gel like Basil for a summer dinner party 🙂

Dreaming of Tomatada

My cooking journey started when I was in primary school on weekends when my brother and I were enlisted in the kitchen to help with peeling and chopping of what then seemed like interminable mounds of garlic, onions and potatoes. There was some pounding with the pestle and mortar, and of course, stirring whatever was in the pot on the stove.

Lisboan Canape

This canape reminds me of those days. It was served as a complimentary canape at a restaurant in Lisbon during a blisteringly hot summer afternoon and it was the perfect way to wind down and settle in for lunch. Tomatada on bread dipped in olive oil. It’s commonly served in both Portugal and Spain, and I suppose the Iberian Peninsula’s answer to India’s Tomato chutney.

There are many variations of Tomatada, and, as in all peasant cuisines, there is no one right way to make this lovely sauce. Some recipes call for herbs, onions, peppers etc. In my version, I skin, core and de-seed 2 tomatoes, and blend it with 2 or 3 cloves of garlic. I then boil the mixture down for about half an hour. Serve chilled on a baguette with a drizzle of olive oil.

I used to make this for Friday evenings when William would knock off work a little earlier. We used to live in Canary Wharf back then, and the celebratory Friday mood would be everywhere with bars filled up by 5pm. I would shop at Waitrose for the ingredients after lunch, and round about 3pm, start making this together with the baguette. It altogether made an elegant start to the weekend with a glass of Shiraz.