Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Craft round up

The last couple of months have been crazy busy! I started back at university, had to rush home to look after my sick cat and am busy with my new role at my student union. Despite that I have made time to enjoy making plenty. My mum and I are still in the process of turning our spare room into a sewing room, and when I was home I upcycled an old set of pine drawers to match the decor. I had to do lots of filling and sanding on them, but I am very pleased with the result!

 The pictures don't do them justice, especially of the drawer knobs...they have buttons on them!

I will no doubt post more pictures as the sewing room progresses, so keep an eye out!

Monday, 7 September 2015

A bake worth a million

This recipe has been much requested by both gluten-free and non gluten-free friends alike, and always goes down a treat when I have made it for parties! I cannot take 100% credit as my mum and I cobbled this recipe together from other recipes (see credited).

Gluten Free Millionaires Shortbread

This recipe is really simple to make, and it extremely addictive! The shortbread base is made of Polenta (cornmeal) and can be used as a biscuit base for most other things, such as cheesecake, but is equally nice on its' own! The recipe I use is from The More Than Occasional Blogger's recipe for Millionaires shortbread, I just use a slight variation for the caramel.


(you may wish to halve as this makes a lot!)
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 250g ground polenta
  • 225 softened Butter
  • 225g caster sugar


  1. Preheat your oven to about 170̊C
  2. Mix together the almonds, polenta and caster sugar in a large bowl until throughly mixed
  3. Add the butter and rub it into the dry ingredients until it looks like fine breadcrumbs
  4. Press into a baking tray evenly, make sure it is deep enough to hold the caramel/chocolate later on!
  5. Using a fork, prick holes into the shortbread to stop it bubbling
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. I find it is best to keep an eye on it, as the first time I made it it was hard enough to break your teeth. Leave it so it is still slightly soft to touch, as it hardens further when cooled
For the caramel I use a tin of caramel, like The More than Occasional Baker does, but thicken it with a bit of help from Mary Berry. The following recipe for thicker caramel is taken from Mary Berrys recipe for Millionaires cheesecake, from her 'Mary Berry Cooks' recipe book.


  • 25g butter
  • 50g light muscovado sugar. Soft brown works well too
  • 1x397 can caramel condensed milk


  1. Melt the butter in a medium pan
  2. Stir in the sugar on a low heat until dissolved
  3. Add the canned caramel and bring to the boil, stirring constantly
  4. Once boiling, set a timer for 4 minutes. Keep it boiling whilst constantly stirring, until it has darkened/thickened slightly.
  5. Stir vigorously, ensuring to catch any that is catching around the edge.
  6. You will feel it begin to thicken slightly. When removed from the heat and the bubbles have subsided, you should be able to draw a path through the caramel and see the base of the pan easily.
  7. Leave the caramel to cool for 5-10 minutes, after which you should be able to roll a small, soft ball out of it.
  8. If it is too soft/runny, boil for another minute
  9. Once the consistency is correct, spread it over the prepared shortbread. Keep in mind that if you leave it too long it will begin to set further in the pan!
Once the caramel has completely cooled, melt 200g (ish) of chocolate and pour over the caramel. You can choose any chocolate, but personally I think choosing anything other than Cadburys would be a let down! Once you've made this a couple of times, (believe me you'll want to) you will be able to figure out better whether you want to adjust the ratio of shortbread/caramel/chocolate.

Enjoy eating! x

Monday, 3 August 2015

Stitchin' update

Just a quick post because I have a couple of things that I am very excited about at the moment!

1. I have bought myself a new sewing machine that should be here by the end of the week! It's a Janome, not completely all singing and dancing but a step up from my mini stitch from John Lewis that can't even do zips or buttonholes

2. My mum and I are off to a dressmaking weekend course at Sew Over It 
For those of you who don't know, Sew Over It are a couple of sewing cafes in London run by the lovely and very stylish Lisa Comfort. First day we make a circle skirt, second a 60's shift dress. Hopefully I will have pictures to post in a few weeks time! 
I recently bought Lisa Comforts Sew Over It Vintage book, I defo recommend it as it's full of fab sewing projects;

I have a *few* craft projects on the go at the moment, including knitting a warm red jumper. I am planning on trying out some more resin jewellery soon, as well as turning a half finished dress of my mums into a skirt. I absolutely love the fabric, she bought it before I was born when she lived in Australia, and it is all tropical with parrots on it. Hopefully we'll have some decent summer weather still for me to wear it!

Happy stitching! x
Instagram; @louisemakesthings

Here's a sneak peak of another new sewing project!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Craft supplies, where to buy them?

Crafters have all started at the same place; you see a fantastic dress or necklace that your friend/colleague/cousin/hairdresser has made, or something spotted on Pinterest that has ignited a never before found spark of inspiration. The question is, where do you buy all these fab fabrics and glam gemstones? Fear not, here's a nice little list of some of the best places to buy a range of crafting supplies on the web and on the high street. (UK residents only; some of the websites may ship elsewhere but as a UK crafter these are the places I go to mostly)

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let's begin!

The Works

I first started shopping here for cheap art supplies when I studied Art at GCSE, and I would say this is a good place to start when you are just finding your feet with a variety of arts and crafts. For the most part they class themselves as a discount book store, and most of my vast selection of craft books have come from here, or end up in their stocks a year after their initial release. I would say a good 95% of all my sewing, jewellery, craft and recipe books are from here, so it's worth checking out! The prices are seriously discounted, so great if you don't want to spend too much whilst you are finding the craft for you. In addition to the books, they also have a selection of craft supplies at minimal cost including craft kits (for kids and adults) of all the things needed for that particular project. If you sign up to their 'Together rewards Card' you get exclusive discounts emailed straight to you, alerted about sales, and you get a reward card to collect points to spend off your next purchase. It is a pretty nifty place to get your stuff to start out crafting, but enter at your own peril as I can't seem to enter their stores without spending more than I had planned....


If you live in the UK you have probably heard of Hobbycraft or seen one of the stores at a retail park or garden centre, however when you're starting out superstores like that things can seem a tad daunting. Which threads do I need? Which brand is better? What's the difference between chain nose and round nose pliers? You end up wanting to buy so much that you don't end up buying anything. Been there, done that! Well, Hobbycraft is fab for beginners onwards as their staff are immensely helpful, and their website/facebook are filled with exciting projects and product info to start you off; I've been shopping there since I was 11 and have learnt a lot from there. If you can't find what you're looking for there's a good chance you'll find it on their website, and they also have a 'club' you can join for exclusive discounts and money off. They are a 'general' craft supplier, so anything from glitter glue and embossing powders through to jewellery making tools and fat quarters. Because they have such a huge range of crafts, sometimes really technical or specific things might not be available in their smaller stores, especially if you start working to a more advanced or professional level, but it still is great for most of your supplies and inspiration (checkout their Pinterest!). My favourite thing of all? Student discount!! (I need it with the amount I buy..)


JewelleryMaker is a wholesale TV shopping channel and website. They have recently updated their website and now have an App, making it even easier to find the products you're after. If you're familiar with other shopping channels, you know the drill; they start off with an expensive price then dramatically lower it. A year into watching JewelleryMaker (and several years into watching their sister channel GemsTV) I am still amazed at the deals you can get on their products. They have a fantastic and seemingly endless range of precious gemstones, findings, threads...anything and everything you could possibly need to make and sell your own jewellery. Their products range from beginners tools and basic findings to more elaborate/professional items, so there really is something for everyone. One of the things I love about the channel, the website and their social media pages is the inspiration and tutorials that you get, plus they also have an extensive range of easy-to-follow DVD tutorials in various types of jewellery making. They have also recently introduced new project kits that include everything to make an item of jewellery, they are really reasonably priced and I can't wait to try them! Receiving an order from JewelleryMaker is always made extra special by the inclusion of things like DVD's in jewellery making basics (on your first order), a little magazine of the latest jewellery trends and informative mini books explaining about the gemstones themselves. The overall company that owns JewelleryMaker is called The Genuine Gemstone Company, their sister channels/websites including Gems TV sell high quality jewellery/gems that myself and my family have loved for years (we are all magpies), and I love reading about the ethical mining and charitable work they do in their mining source countries. I am a Geologist so I do love a good mine!

Other places worth a nosey

There are too many places to get quality supplies so I really can't name them all. Obviously the internet is a wonderful thing, and there are plenty of things you can get on eBay and Amazon; as with anything you can't always guarantee on quality and online pictures can be verrry misleading. One of my fave overall websites is etsy, as you can get loads of unique craft supplies as well as handmade gifts. It's worth checking out if your local town has any stores and craft fairs as you can get a lot there, and it's always nice to support local businesses! There are also many different conventions and fairs nationally throughout the year, I always really enjoy going to the one at Birmingham NEC every March (can't remember the exact name) and always enjoy buying way more than I need. As well as shopping online there are plenty of blogs out there with great advice, tutorials and patterns; one of my faves is Tilly and the Buttons but there are loads more out there too. In this day of high technology use it is very easy to forget how useful books and magazines can be. I'm currently subscribed to 'Simply Sewing' and 'Love Sewing' magazine, both of which have fab free gifts and patterns each month, and I always end up buying other craft magazines too. They are great not only for the projects they provide, they also introduce you to some of the bloggers I've mentioned and their adverts let you know some of the best places for supplies, and it's the same for most craft magazines. As I said I have an extensive library of craft and sewing books, and as you build up your own collection you will realise that they quite often have a list of useful shops/websites that they use too, which is really useful as it often means you can make things identical to the ones shown in the books.

Just remember; buying and stocking up and bits and bobs is a huge part of the fun, and no matter how full your craft cupboard is you can never have too much!

Happy Crafting x

Friday, 20 March 2015

Please sir, can I have some more?

Okay so it's not exactly 'Gruel', but the various soups I have been making the last few weeks have certainly left me begging for more, and made me addicted to making and experimenting with soups. Growing up my family have lived (and still do) off my Grandmothers or Mothers homemade soups. As the Scottish side of my family, it is safe to say that Scotch Broth runs through our veins! My Grandmother (called Ging by everyone) would use a Gammon to make a stock, then use broth mix and every vegetable under the sun to make the soup. When I say soup, forget any notions of feeble liquids that could be slurped with a straw, proper soup should be so thick with vegetables that the spoon practically stands up. To make a meal of it, we would have the gammon used for the stock with egg and chips (and baked beans if we were particularly hungry), and boy oh boy would this two course meal be the best comfort meal in the dark evenings of winter. What's great as well is the veggie soup is so filling and healthy it's a great meal if you're watching your weight. It is a little bit of heaven in a bowl, and is our families own personal answer to penicillin. In fact, it is one thing I desperately miss when I am at university, so I thought it was about time I taught myself how to make it!

Now you may remember my previous 'Aldi Haul' post; I bought 3 small Love Food recipe books then, one of which was dedicated to Soup (isbn; 1407581155). I didn't follow any of these recipes exactly, instead I used them more as a guideline for how to make a basic soup. I have to say I am dying to try the bacon and cheese soup recipe from this book.
As I mentioned in my previous post I am currently being tested for Coeliac disease, and it is looking likely that I have it. For the most part soups are safe, although a lot of tinned 'cream of' soups have gluten in the form of wheat starch to thicken them. When making soup from scratch you are obviously in complete control over what you put in it. Traditional scotch broth has Pearl Barley in it, which sadly contains gluten in it. Most other soup ingredients like lentils and split peas don't contain Gluten, but their manufacturing processes means that there is a high risk of cross contamination; I have started buying mine from Holland & Barratt as they are safe (and cheap!), other whole food/health food stores are also a safer bet; just be sure to check the packet. Now you can't make soup without stock; either from a packet, a cube or homemade. If you don't want to faff about with making stock, you can usually get ready made fresh stock in the refrigerator section, or make it using stock cubes.One thing I have realised since obsessively checking labels for gluten is that a lot stock cubes sadly contain gluten, either in the form of a flavouring or thickening agent. Most Knorr stock pots are safe to use (their gravy pots are not) and provide a lovely rich flavour, they can also be used to make gravy; you will just need to mix in some cornflour to thicken it. If you prefer the traditional stock cubes I know Asda's own Beef stock cubes are gluten free, but I am yet to check their other stock cubes. Either way; make the stock following the instructions and add to the soup at the appropriate time. 


General Method

Overall the soups I make tend to be 'use whatever veg I have that needs eating up'. When I made soup for the first time I was using Spinach in every meal as I was (and still am) iron deficient due to the Coeliac and Spinach is a great source of iron. Generally I start out by making the stock up in a measuring jug and chopping up all my veg. The first thing that goes in the pot (forgot to mention; a decent soup pot is important!) is a bit of oil along with Onion and/or Leeks and Garlic should you choose to add it; I definitely recommend adding Garlic if you have a cold or are fighting off one. You should only sweat the Onions and Leeks i.e. let the juices run out but don't let the veg brown. This would also be the time to add meat, should you choose to. Next I would add the rest of my veg (usually Carrot and Parsnip), Green Lentils and the stock made earlier. The Green Lentils take longer to cook, but to reduce cooking time you can soak them in water for at least an hour or overnight. I find adding potato helps thicken the soup even more, and I also tend to 'half blend' the soup; I hold my hand blender over any particularly large chunks of veg, stir and repeat.
The most important thing to do is have fun experimenting with your own mixes of ingredients and spices, as well as trying out the tried and trusted combinations of course!

Have fun cooking,

Louise x

UPDATE: Ging would like me to add that it is v. important to wash any cereals before you add them to soup, as there is surface gunge that can upset your stomach if eaten. Happy soup making!

Monday, 9 March 2015

I got some 'splaining to do...

Saying happy new year when we're already into March might seem to be redundant, but as it's my first post of the year I'll say it anyway...Happy New Year!

Now i'm sure you're all rolling your eyes but since the new year I have been backwards and forwards having blood tests, turns out I have Coeliac disease! (Or have a very high intolerance to Gluten, I'm still waiting for more tests). So Gluten is now completely off the menu for me. It came as a bit of a shock, but I've accepted that it's only going to be a problem if I make it one. Loving cooking as much as I do I've enjoyed experimenting with new GF* recipes, in fact one of my very best friends said she wasn't worried about me because she knew I would enjoy trying out a load of new recipes! There have only been a few times I've felt really down about it, and that's only been when I've discovered that there's no GF alternative for some things. No more Malteasers for me! :(

Needless to say, any further recipes I post will be gluten free, but where I can I will post alternative ingredients for those of you who can eat gluten.

Despite it being a very eventful few months I have managed to get a few crafty projects done!

My latest makes

I made two of these Marvel inspired cushions, one for my boyfriends Christmas present and the other for myself (what can I say, I knew I would get jealous of his!)

It was then that I awoke a dormant passion for sewing, and since then have been buying sewing books, magazines and patterns like there is no tomorrow. To make matters worse, I have become addicted to pinterest and my 'sewing and knitting' is getting pretty full! If any of you are interested in following my pinterest you can find me here https://www.pinterest.com/lbellamy94/

Once my sewing machine was out I couldn't resist in making something else, so took a trip to my local sewing shop to buy a pattern and pick out my fabric. The pattern I used was New Look 6004, part of their 'learning the basics' range (link in caption). You can see the finished skirt and a closeup of the fabric I used, I fell in love with it's bold pattern as I am obsessed with 60's fashion and it looked like it would have fit right in! 

As well as sewing I have recently found my passion for knitting (I REALLY didn't need anymore hobbies). I bought this knitting book from the works (I really should just start paying my wages directly to them), which had some great simple projects at the the back. Scarves are the standard starter project, but I have way too many scarves as it is, so I made myself a nice red knitted hat. The Knitting Book: 1405368039

That's all for now, I have looooads of other makes in planning and I have started making a beaded pearl peter pan collar necklace. I also have quite a few recipes I hope to upload (gluten free of course), so keep an eye out for them! If you'd like regular updates of my craft projects, checkout my instagram @LouiseMakesthings. In the meantime, I recommend checking out The Works; they have loads of new crafty things and recipe books in. Even if you're not an experienced crafter, they have lots of lovely craft kits that are easy to make! The Works Website

Louise x

*GF = Gluten Free

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Top Tomato!

Hello again!

I have not posted anything for a few months now (shocker) and my only excuse is that I have been home from uni for the summer; I am back now and ready to bring you more homemade goodness! I am sadly writing this from bed as I have been struck down with the dreaded freshers flu, so the recipe I am bringing you today is one from last week when I was firing on all cylinders, enjoy!

Easy Peasy Italian Sauce

This recipe is brilliant for pouring over pasta or using as a basic pizza sauce, and it uses just 4 simple ingredients. I usually find using a whole tin of chopped tomatoes will serve about 3 people as a pasta or bolognese sauce.

Basic Ingredients

- 1 tin of Chopped Tomatoes (NOTE: Peeled tomatoes are different as you need to chop them up yourself. Supermarket Value packs of chopped tomatoes are perfect to jazz up for your sauce)
- 1 onion, peeled and diced (roughly). I usually buy more onions than I can get through before they go off, so I dice them the day I've bought them and freeze them ready for use
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed (or finely chopped if you don't have a garlic crusher)
- Herbs (fresh or dried); basil, oregano OR 'Mixed Italian Herbs'
- Optional; Salt and pepper to taste

Variations (best for sauces)

- Chopped Mushrooms/pepper/carrots/courgettes; these help the sauce go further and are fab at helping give you more of your 5-a-day
- A healthy glug of Red Wine; this makes the sauce extra specially rich and will dress up your meal perfectly, you can either buy a small bottle of red wine, cooking wine or use whatever wine you're drinking with your meal anyway!

How do?

- Warm a splash (1tbsp-ish) of oil (I use olive oil or vegetable oil) until it starts to sizzle or spit. 
- Add the chopped onion and garlic, let them cook for a couple of minutes but don't let them brown.
- Add your herbs and stir them into this; mixing these ingredients before you add the tomato helps release the flavour into the oil. You can tell because you'll be able to smell the ingredients!
- Add your chopped tomatoes, mixing them thoroughly with the onion/garlic/herbs. Allow to simmer.

You have your basic sauce.

If you are using mushrooms add them to the oil/garlic/onion the same time as the herbs to help them cook. Any veg you are adding should be added at the same time as the tomatoes, just make sure you simmer the sauce long enough for the veg to cook. As for the wine, add anytime once the tomato is in, just make sure you stir it well!

For a Bolognese

My preferred way to make a Bolognese is in the oven (just as my mama always makes) as opposed to on the hob. I find the flavour is completely different and a lot richer (especially with wine). The meat itself melts in the mouth it's so tender! To do it in the oven simply add all your ingredients to your mince in a casserole dish (with a lid) and cook on about 180°C for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. A few of my friends swear by adding a dash of golden syrup to a bolognese, I have never tried this however as I find it tasty enough without! Dolmio Original Bolognese Sauce is great if you haven't all your ingredients, as it contains 100% natural ingredients and no artificial 'stuff' in it.

For a Pizza Base Sauce

Cook on the hob as mentioned above, but try to strain a bit (not all!!!) of the juice from the chopped tomatoes off. Add a healthy squeeze of tomato paste also to thicken, and if you find it is still a bit too runny try and reduce the sauce, or add a bit of cornflour/water paste.

Naturally, whatever you use this sauce for it should be served with grated cheese; especially Parmesan! 

Enjoy experimenting with these variations! x