Wednesday, 30 June 2010

last minute truffles

We were invited out to supper the other night and I decided to take some of the aforementioned elderflower cordial along with some homemade chocolate truffles. After a quick dash to 'a local supermarket' to get the ingredients I came home and handed the task over to Granny and the girls so that I could spend the afternoon at my sewing machine (the vintage and handmade fair is truly pending!).

Happy to oblige, mum set to work but soon her progress was stifled by the lack of truffle cases. I could have sworn I had some plain white paper cases lying around, but my search was futile and with no contingency gift we had to think laterally.

Out came a book on origami and mum found a cup design and had to make enough cases for all the truffles she had made. Whilst it was very much a last ditch attempt and the girls are to young to find the idea of paper folding entertaining I have to say that I was very pleased with the result,

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

elderflower cordial

The cow parsley has gone and now the hedges are filled with Elderflower, which absolutely amazing as you pass. In fact it smells just like Elderflower Cordial, something the children love to drink (perhaps because of the quantities of sugar). The next couple of months are great for foraging and I love the fact that you can entertain the children twice with this sort of thing. Step One: a lovely walk to find your goodies. Step two: an afternoon in the kitchen creating chaos and hopefully something edible too.


15 - 20 elderflower heads
1.35 kg granulated sugar
3 lemons and 3 limes thinly sliced

Put 1.5 litres of water with the sugar in a saucepan until sugar has dissolved then bring to the boil.

Add flowers and return liquid to the boil then take off the heat immediately

Add lemons and limes, stir well then leave, loosely covered for 24 hours

Pour into bottles and keep in fridge.

This makes two 750 ml bottles, which we drink quite quickly so I don't bother with Citric Acid. If you want your cordial to last longer add 30g of Citric Acid. It is also quite a sweet mixture so add plenty of water and serve with a large slice of lemon!

Very refreshing on these hot Summer days.

gooseberry curd

Since everything is growing so well at the moment I thought I should clear the freezer of any remaining bags of fruit from last Summer to make room for this years batches. Rather like Rhubarb I love the sour taste of gooseberries, I really love it with custard, but I've also found this wonderful recipe for gooseberry curd. It tastes delicious served with clotted cream on freshly baked scones with a nice cup of Earl Grey (and a good book).

for 2 jars

500g gooseberries
2 tbsp water
125 g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk

Place gooseberries in a pan with water, cover and cook at a medium temperature until really squidgy. Pass this through a sieve to make a puree.

Put puree in a clean pan at a low temperature and add butter, sugar, eggs and egg yolk and stir constantly until the mixture thickens

Pour into jars and cover the surface with cling film to stop a skin forming. Once cool remove cling film and add lids.

Chill until needed, lasts in the fridge about 3 weeks

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


I can't contain my excitement so I have to give you a sneaky peek. These are some of the first colour proofs of a new design. Its a vintage faded rose inspired by a piece of fabric I bought from the Vintage Handmade fair, from the lovely Donna Flower - she also writes a great blog here. I have tried to combine vintage and contemporary here, with old roses mixed with shadow leaves and some easy to use coloured grounds, so does anyone have a favourite colourway so far? it will be available on my website soon.

Herman baked...

Just to let you know that Herman turned out alright. As I'm not too great at following instructions he probably didn't get quite as much care and attention as he should have done. However Day 10 came and we added apple and chopped nuts to the undesirable looking beige gloop that we have been cultivating and put it in the oven.

Out came an enormous and tasty cake that has kept both hubby and boy quiet for 4 days. That I call a success.

So if someone offers you a tub of stuff and claims its a friendship cake, think twice before bunging it in the bin and bear with it!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

visually beautiful

today i am having a "stop the world i need to get off" type of day. jo and i had arranged to strt ploughing through our vast collection of bits and bobs and all things fabric to start making some hardaker & pope goody bags for the vintage handmade textile fair, yet at the same time i had a million (slight exaggeration) emails to deal with and doing mood boards for a christmas photoshoot for a leading interiors mag. a big mouth ulcer and a scarcity of anything to eat chez Hardaker made me a grumpy old bag today - sorry Jo!
Anyway whilst trawling for christmas images i fell in love with this from Atlanta Bartlett ' s book Easy elegance - a favourite inspirational read at the moment. i am now inspired for the photography of the new collection - just need to get christmas (in july) out of the way first!!!

Monday, 14 June 2010


Baby had a little accident in bed the other night, leading to one of those late night, bleary-eyed, bed making solutions. In this case her sleeping bag and eiderdown had to make do.

But I've been rather remiss about making the bed up properly since. Partly because baby loves her sleeping bag, but mainly because I'm loving the pattern combinations on her bed at the moment. Every time I walk past the girl's bedroom door I stop and take a look, and what's worse (or better, depending on how you look at it) is the fact that the unmade bed version of this look is even more appealing to the eye.

It is funny how something can really catch your eye and make you smile, perhaps this is how Tracy Emin felt!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

the perfect antidote

It doesn't matter if you're a harassed house wife and mother of 3 or a stressed out London business woman, it always pays to take the opportunity to take time off and do something for yourself. Which is exactly what I did this week.

I've been dying to get to the V&A for ages. In my London days museums weren't free so I don't think I've been since studying History of Art A'level - quite a few years ago then! And of course there was the much talked about Quilt Exhibition and the Grace Kelly exhibition too. I went straight from Paddington to the Grace Kelly exhibition; I've always loved the Hollywood star to Princess story, and admired her wonderful style. It was great to see the clothes she wore but a still dummy does nothing for costume. But there were plenty of photographs and film clips that illustrated how graceful and beautiful she was.

Then I met up with 2 school friends to visit the Quilt Exhibition. A fascinating insight into the history of quilt making and has left me desperate to sort out my fabrics and make a couple of quilts for the girls beds. Though I think a lack of time and space may hinder my progress! Excuses, excuses.

But of course you can't catch up with friends properly in an exhibition so we stole off to The Humming Bird Cafe for a gossip (intellectual gossip and little talk of children, wonderful) accompanied by an iced coffee and a 'Black Bottomed Cake' and I bought a selection of cakes for the family. If you can't make them, buy them!

Next day, I tried to recreate it at home. Cakes survived the train journey and I whizzed together a frappe in the magimix, but it wasn't really the same.

Much as I love my family it was great, and refreshing, to have a day out to be Me. I recommend it to all.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

meet herman...

.... the latest (potential) answer to my baking problems! Both Boy and Hubby have been not too subtley hinting that they would appreciate a few more home baked cakes. Unfortunatley, as I've mentioned before, this is not my strong point. Those that are more successful than I have told me that precision is one key to successful cake making, so I've been trying really hard to follow instructions accuratley and to measure out ingredients perfectly and the results are improving but still not perfect. Though I must say neither Boy nor Hubby are complaining about the taste testing.

Any how I'm hoping that Herman may help. A friend came for coffee and bought 'him' with her. It's a friendship cake and the tupperware full of beige gloop that I was given is actually a yeast mixture that we have to stir and feed occasionally over 10 days before adding the final ingredients and wacking in the oven, then eating.

I'm intrigued. The children have taken responsibility for stirring him and tomorrow is our first feeding session, but what exactly are we going to end up with?

cornish inspiration

while I was in St Ives (i think i will be boring you for weeks with this!) i came across various artists whose work i was immediately drawn to. One of which was Hannah Cole, a brighton based painter who had some fabulous seascapes of the beaches around st ives. i love the composition of the paintings, and the musted seamisty colours.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

cornish inspiration 1

we have just returned froma beautiful week in st ives in cornwall. When the sun shines on the English seaside it is stunninly beautiful. I can see why st ives was so attractive to artists, the quality of light was truely amazing. I have returned full of ideas and inspiration, so more of the seaside later this week.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

loving...cow parsley

It's June, it's pouring with rain and it's a shame to say goodbye to May, one of my favourite months. In recent years May has brought fantastic weather and the English Countryside is in it's prime, the trees and fields are green and the hedges absolutely brim with Cow Parsley. It looks good on the roadside, but also looks fantastic in jugs as an easy, rustic 'flower arrangement'. And I've noticed some lovely outdoor examples of this recently.

As well as the cow parsley being in flower, the cows are back on the Common for the summer it seems only apt to mention this great wall paper, designed by Belynda Sharples. I came across it while having a latte in Boston Tea Party in Barnstaple over Easter. They had it covering the walls. But the piece de resistance was half way up the stairs where they had a shelf, on the wall, with a row of simple glass bottles filled with cheery, bright daffodils. The contrast looked fabulous and it was one of those moments when you really wish I'd had the camera.