London Zoo

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This feels like too long ago! For my boyfriend’s birthday, we spent the day at London Zoo, finishing off at Comptoi Libanais, a lebanese restaurant. The animals at the zoo were as cute as they look in these photos and I think that we were both pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed our time there. Of course, we didn’t go expecting not to have fun (that would be dumb) but it was probably one of the best attractions we’ve been to together! I was surprised how interactive a lot of it was – lots of walking through dens while monkeys swung over our heads – and the penguins were gorgeous! Just look at that cheeky face in the second photo.

We stayed at the zoo a lot longer than I expected and just before we left, I convinced my boyfriend to go in the butterfly dome “just quickly.” I’m so pleased that I did because it turned out to be my favourite part. The butterflies were beautiful and at points, they were landing all over me (shame I didn’t manage to get a photo of that). When we finally left the dome, we were hungry and headed to Kensington for a very late lunch at Comptoi Libanais. For a while now, we’ve been trying to eat our way around the world, testing as many cuisines as we can and we’d yet to try Lebanese so Comptoi Libanais was a no-brainer. Being a humous-lover, I loved it and my boyfriend enjoyed it too (which is the priority). Altogether an awesome celebration!

Lavender Sugar

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Everyone knows that I am a lavender freak, right?  I just love lavender in its every form, and if you do too, then here is an easy way to bring that lavender luxury to your cooking, without having to  buy any expensive ingredients.  It is so easy too, and makes a fabulous present for any time of the year.

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Ingredients:

  • one jar with a lid that seals (Kilner jars are great but you can use other types)
  • culinary lavender
  • granulated white sugar

A quick note before we begin.  It is important to use culinary lavender in this recipe as we are going to leave the lavender heads in. Culinary lavender is widely available and very cheap from garden centres.  You can grow these plants in any herb garden or window boxes – or you could buy the heads online.

Here we go…..

The lavender oil (and therefore the fragrance and taste) is held in a minute sack, just behind the flower head. Therefore you don’t want the whole stem in there. You also don’t want the lavender flowers so pick your lavender just before it bursts into flower.  That way you will have the firm little buds, just aching to release their goodness.

If you have picked your lavender, leave on the stem for around 24 – 48 hours (to dry a little) and then stroke the lavender so that the heads fall off onto paper. They should fall off easily (and your fingers will smell delicious).

Discard the stems (unless you want to bundle them up to dry and later put on your BBQ – they are a wonderful infusion for lamb).

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Make sure your jar is clean and dry and then layer the sugar with the lavender heads. You can put in as much as you want or as little – just think about how definite a flavour you want. Don’t fill the jar completely to the top, as you want to be able to shake it from time to time. Seal the jar and leave for a month.

Tiny amounts of oil will come out of the heads and into the sugar, that will absorb it.  After a month the sugar is ready to use, in its normal amount, in cakes or shortbread – in fact anywhere where you want that delicate lavender touch to your cooking.

Enjoy!

Karen x

 

Changes on the Horizon

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Just recently there has been lots of changes in our little household and for a while, neither myself or Karen knew what we were going to do about Honey Rose Crafts. We’ve loved filling this corner of the internet with our handmade products and diary photos, but we’ve been struggling just recently to stick to our ‘two posts a week’ promise. We’ve often felt the pressure and ‘pushed’ out posts that we weren’t 100% happy with just because we were short on time, and then often, we’ve missed weeks altogether.

We didn’t want to get rid of Honey Rose Crafts – we established that straight away. Both of us enjoy sharing our makes and we feel that HRC encourages us to be bolder in our crafty endeavours. We’ve tried out new things and tackled projects that would otherwise have been forgotten in the cycle of daily life, so we knew that we didn’t want to lose that encouragement.

Instead, we’ve decided that Honey Rose Crafts will be a lifestyle and crafty diary for us. When things get a bit hectic then we might not post for a while, but when the crafting is in full swing, we might end up posting quite a lot! We both think this ‘free and easy’ attitude is healthier for the site and healthier for us too. We’re hoping that it will actually create better content that’s more enjoyable for you to read (and we hope that you agree).

So this was just a short little post to let you know what’s been going on back here. You might have noticed the changes in the design of the site too – I’ve been fiddling around with a few images and testing some designs. We hope that you like it!

And you’ll be hearing again from us very soon.

Travel Diaries: Rome

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Hey guys, it’s Georgia here. So last week I was lucky enough to get the chance to go to Rome. My boyfriend found a cheap, last-minuite deal two weeks ago and we went ahead and booked it along with two friends from uni. When my boyfriend rang me up, I couldn’t believe it, and I’ll admit that I was pretty freaked out. I don’t react well to change or spontaneity (I say “I don’t react well” – I just mean that it makes me anxious). Then a family tragedy struck and I was even more unsure about the whole trip, but I went for it in the end, and I’m so pleased that I did.

We were there for four days and we walked our legs off around that city! Boy, was Rome hot, but it was also incredibly beautiful. I suspected that it would be pretty, but I didn’t think it would be so drop dead gorgeous as it was. About a year and a half ago, we planned a previous trip to Rome but the whole thing fell through. I had hoped that we’d go this summer, but since we both had busy schedules and little cash, we’d resigned ourselves to waiting until next summer at the nearest, then this deal came out of nowhere! And we had to take it.

This was my first experience of Italy and it’s given me an incessant craving for the rest of that country! I’m desperate to see more of Italy. Everyone was so friendly and I felt completely at ease. I’ve spent a lot of time in France in the past and although I do love it, I think I might like Italy more…

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Definitely want to go back!

Crochet Make-Up Remover Pads

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Hi everyone!  I just had to show you these.  I saw them in a Mollie Makes magazine and I knew straight away that with my ‘thrifty Karen’ hat on I just had to give them a go.  They are re-useable make-up pads.  You can use them with cleanser or eye make-up remover and then you just throw them into your washing machine when you next do a wash, to clean them again for re-use.  How fantastic is that?

I used a recycled natural cotton to make them and decided to do two colours, one for facial make-up and the other for eye make-up remover, and therefore keep them separate.  I decided on the darker ones for my eye make-up (because of the mascara) and the paler ones for my face.

I am quite a tight crocheter and so if you are like me, you would need to do these more loosely.  They were very quick to make and it was lovely seeing them come together.  In fact I found it easy to dash off about six in an evening of television.

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…now I guess you all want to know whether they work or not.  Well, I can report that they do! Not only that but they are lovely to use with Georgia’s natural soaps too.  They give a very slight exfoliation to the skin and are just the right size for those little nooks and crannies around your nose and eyes too. They would also make a wonderful accompaniment to the crocheted wash cloth that we featured here.  What a fab holiday gift for a friend or even start making early for a truly homemade Christmas present.

Karen x

 

Homemade Tea Bags

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So people thought that I was a little bit crazy when I decided to make these, but I was absolutely sure that they would be the best present for my friend, Allie. Allie and I lived together for three years at university and for her birthday I wanted to make her something symbolic and special so naturally, I decided on homemade tea bags.

Okay, so that probably doesn’t sound particularly glamorous, but it’s one of those ‘private jokes’ you have with friends. Allie and I have spent an enormous amount of time in pjs with a cup of tea in-hand, putting the world to rights and I wanted something that would reflect all those lovely memories. Enter homemade tea bags.

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Ingredients:

  • Coffee filters (I could only get brown, after scouring several supermarkets, but ideally they should be white)
  • loose leaf tea of your choice
  • sewing machine
  • thread (colour of your choice)
  • scissors
  • string
  • sellotape
  • paper & pen

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What to do:

1. Thread up your sewing machine and decide how many tea bags you would like to make (I did 20).

2. Take your first coffee filter and sew a tea bag shape onto it using your sewing machine. However, you need to leave one side open to put your loose leaf tea in (see above image).

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3. Repeat this with all of your coffee filters and then trim off the edges. Then pop the loose leaf tea inside – I put two teaspoons in each pocket.

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4. Next, take a length of string and sellotape one end to the pocket. Trim the other end to your desired length and staple a small square of paper to it. On the paper draw something personal like a heart, star or a little quote.

5. In order to seal the tea bag, you fold down the corners of the open end over the top of the sellotaped string to hide it and then staple that in place as well.

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6. Repeat this for all of your tea bags. It takes a while but it’s well worth the effort!

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And then you’re done! Just display them in a nice pot/wrap them up and give them to someone special.

Merchant and Mills

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We shared our trip to Rye recently, but we left out a big bit - Merchant & Mills! This shop was awesome and made such an impression on us that we felt it deserved its own deadicated post. If you get the opportunity, do click above and check out their website; we’re big fans of their utilitarian style.

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Merchant & Mills is a drapery that sells beautifully designed sewing gear, fabrics and patterns. As soon as we walked in, we wanted EVERYTHING. Their styling is difficult to resist and we walked away with a dress pattern and a long list of future purchases we’d like to make (I’ll hopefully be sharing the dress pattern soon and letting you know how I got on). We fell in love with their sewing kit too.

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To top it all off, the customer service in Merchant & Mills was brilliant. They were kind, incredibly helpful and friendly. We chatted about sewing and photography, and they even let us ‘borrow’ a bit of their wifi that we were sorely in need of. All in all, we were incredibly impressed and hope to visit again soon.

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Make a Pen Case

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Dr D wanted a case for his pencil because the sharp lead poked through his trouser pocket and so I saw both a craft AND a present opportunity and obliged with this!

It makes a great quick make for anyone but do also consider it for Father’s Day – AND it is SO easy.

Ingredients:

  • some fab cotton
  •  paper to make a patter (I used A4 copy paper)
  • a short length of ribbon (off an old box of chocolates)
  • scissors, need and thread

How I did it:

I made a template by measuring two and three quarters the length of my pen/pencil and the width. (Make the width comfortable because you do not want it too tight. Now before cutting out the paper, add your seam allowance to the four sides of your oblong. Cut out your oblong, fold in half, and taper just one end to make a rounded point like the one shown below.

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Cut out two pieces in your fabric, turn right sides facing and before you sew around the edge, position your ribbon a little down from the blunt end (between the two layers). Sew around the edge, leaving a gap for turning through (as shown below).

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 Very carefully snip some notches into the tapered end (be careful not to snip into the seam) and also trim off the corners so that when you turn the case through, it is not too bulky.

Turn the case through and push a blunt instrument (such as a chopstick) into the corners to help you.  Lightly press.  Hand sew up the gap you left for turning.

Finally fold your case over so that the ribbon is on the top (as shown below), check that your pen/pencil sits nicely in it (adjust if necessary), and hand sew down each side.

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 Take a note Dr D – no more holey trousers!

Finished Blanket!

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Thank you for bearing with me.  It took a while… but I finally made it and I am so pleased with the results (although I must smooth my sheets more carefully to show it off to its full potential!)  You might remember that I started this after attending a Nicki Trench intermediate crochet workshop where she shared a wonderfully easy ripple pattern with me. I started the blanket in earnest, but (and this was a big BUT) I suddenly realised about a third of the way through that my initial chain row was too long.

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I had to face the fact that I would either need to unravel what I had already done or live with it.  Well, I draped what I had done over my bed and it dropped onto the floor on both sides.  Even Dr D commented, ‘That certainly is a big blanket.’ When I told him that I was going to take it all out, he told me not to, and to live with it, ‘After all, a big blanket is good.  You can always fold it in half.’

But no, I knew it had to go.  Not only was it far too big, but it was too heavy.  At that size and weight I would have had to have used a hoist to get it onto the bed – and it would have cost a lot more to complete.

No, it had to go, so one night I unravelled it.  In fact it took longer than I thought.  However, strangely, crocheting up the smaller version was quicker than I thought too and I had soon used up all the wool (mind you, the size 9 crochet hook helped).

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So here it is.  All the colours and shapes of the Carnac seaside for me to enjoy out of season.

Bonne nuit!

Peanut Butter Cookies

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And so continues our 20 Brilliant Biscuits feature! In March we shared Brown Butter Cookies and today we’ve got Peanut Butter Cookies. These biscuits are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me because my boyfriend is allergic to nuts. I don’t get to eat them often and we all know how delicious peanut butter is so I get cravings. But these biscuits satisfy my every nut dream and they are SO easy to make.

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The ingredients and instructions are all here, along with a handy video that walks you through the process step-by-step, but if you’re a seasoned baker then you’ll be making these with your eyes closed. I didn’t change the recipe at all accept to swap out crunchy peanut butter for smooth (all I had in).

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Last year I made these as a small gift for a friend to say ‘thank you’ and they were a hit! I sometimes think that a bit of home baking for a loved one is far nicer than an extravagant present. It makes a change from gifting someone bubble bath too.

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Sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on these babies when they’re out of the oven and you’re done!