Monday, 29 July 2013

DIY Macrame Charm Bracelets

Over the last few months I've noticed that many shops have been stocking these little knotted macrame bracelets, each for around ten pounds a pop. Every time I've seen them I've been tempted to buy one, but have been held back by what seems to be a ridiculously high price for what is predominantly prettily knotted string. So I did a little research and found out how to make one, which I will now share with you.

You will need:
Chinese knotting cord (I used 2mm but I think these could look just as pretty with thinner)
Connector beads
Super glue
A clip board

Start by cutting a piece of cord which is long enough to wrap loosely around your wrist twice. Fold this in half and loop it through your connector bead. Fold this loop over the bead and pull through the rest of the cord. This will anchor the cord to the bead. Then, clip the bead to your clipboard. This will make the threads easier to work with as you don't have to worry about them not staying taut.

Next, take another length of cord about double the length of the first. Find the centre point of this thread and pass it under the threads connected to the bead. Now you are ready to start a simple square knot.

For the knot, take your left hand thread and pass it over the middle 'anchor threads'. Your right hand thread should then pass over the left hand thread and under the middle anchor threads. The knot is finished by poking the right hand thread up through the loop on the left side and tightening.

Now repeat this, starting with the new right hand thread.

Continue until your knot is roughly half the width of your wrist. Pull your final knot firmly and cut the left hand and right hand cords. I the dab a tiny splodge of superglue on the ends to insure they won't unravel. Tie off your two anchor threads with little knots at the end.

Repeat these steps on the other end of the connector bead. Now you should have two long knots attached to either end of the connector bead.

Finally, to make this bracelet adjustable, you need to make a clasp. Loop your bracelet in a circle so that your anchor threads from each end are crossing. These four threads will form the centre anchor threads for the clasp knot. You may find it useful to tie the threads together with some spare cord while you're working with them.

Cut a short length of cord (you only need to make around four or five knots) and centre it under the four anchor cords and knot as usual. This can be a little tricky just because the bracelet is loose and the there are more anchor chords.

Once your knots are complete, cut off the excess cord and secure with super glue.

There we are! One (much cheaper) macrame charm bracelet!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Newmarket Races: Labrinth and Little Mix

Nothing defines a British summer more than braving an open air concert. Growing up, my family and I would pack a picnic, grab out summer frocks (and a large umbrella) and head off to watch 'Last Night at the Proms' style events in the local villages. Yesterday evening, my mother and I decided to head off for a slight variant on this and made tracks to the races! 

Newmarket Racecourse holds a string of events throughout the summer called 'Newmarket Nights.' These essentially involve an evening of horse racing followed by a band or two- last night we went to see Labrinth who was supported by Little Mix.

Our evening was great fun. We floated around the enclosure observing the horses about to speed down the track and attempted to sound knowledgeable about which horse would do well (we were surprisingly right two out of three times, much to our delight!), then dashed to the barrier just as they came thundering down the course. This was followed by watching the winning horses have a wash down while the jockeys collected their trophies.  

After watching a few races, we retired to the car to have a 'boot picnic' before getting into position for the impending concert.

We managed to bag ourselves a spot in the grandstand along side the stage, so we were really close for the sets which was exciting. Little Mix were surprisingly good and really got the crowd going, but the real star of the show was Labrinth whose versatile set had the crowd dancing to his tune. His solo rendition of 'Beneath your Beautiful' inspired a sea of lighters and phone screens to twinkle across the audience while his encore of 'Earthquake' whipped the onlooking throng into a frenzy. After jumping, swaying and bopping our way through the two sets, my mother and I wandered back to the car happily chatting about the night we'd just had.

I'd highly recommend Newmarket Nights- the racing is exhilarating and the evening concerts all have brilliant line ups (Kasabian is playing next week!). Finally, making it that little bit more attractive, it's also amazing value for money.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Afternoon Tea in the Garden

Since we've been having this spate of glorious weather (who would want to leave the UK right now?!) I decided it was time to hit the garden again, just this time with baked goods. So my friend Harriet and I pulled on our aprons and got to work conjuring up an afternoon tea to be proud of, complete with decretive cake stand!

We prepared breads piled high with caramelised onion, brie and rocket, cream cheese pesto and pepper cups, fruit cups and lavender shortbreads, all topped off with some of my home made lemonade and a glass of bubbly. The best bit was all the food was relatively quick to make! My favourite little dish however had to be the breads, but that's mainly because I feel you can't go wrong with caramelised onion and brie!

Anyway, just before I rush back to the garden, here are two little recipes for you guys to enjoy. Tell me what you think!


You will need:
4 red onions
a wedge of brie
bread (I used a ciabatta style loaf)
olive oil
a teaspoon of sugar
a sprinkle of salt

The only time consuming part of this recipe is caramelising the onions. To do this, coat a large pan with a thin layer of olive oil and heat this on a medium heat. When the oil is just simmering, throw in your onions, finely chopped, and spread them evenly over the base of your pan. Now gently heat your onions. If they look a little dry, add a small dash of water- this will also help prevent them burning. Add your teaspoon of sugar and your sprinkle of salt. These will help the caramelisation process. They should be caramelised after around 40 minutes.
Simply pile your caramelised onions onto lightly toasted bread, pop on a slice of brie, cover with a handful of rocket and serve. Delicious!

Lavender Shortbreads

You will need:
125g of warmed butter (I pop mine in the microwave for 20 seconds)
55g of sugar
175g of plain flour
a couple of heads of lavender (mine come straight from the garden- I just wash them and break them up into individual flowers)

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees and then simply combine all the ingredients in a mixer until they're thoroughly incorporated. Next, roll the mixture out until it's around 5mm thick. Using a cookie cutter (or a knife- it doesn't really matter), cut out your biscuits and lay them on a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Bung them in the oven and leave them to cook for around 15 minutes or until golden brown. Pull them out and sprinkle over a dusting of sugar and leave to cool. That's all there is to it!

Monday, 15 July 2013

How to Make Cheer Bows

I've noticed that it's surprisingly expensive to buy cheer bows, which I find odd since they're literally just a bit of ribbon. Therefore I had a go at making my own!

Here's what you'll need:
50cm of 38mm ribbon
a short length of 16mm contrasting ribbon
Cable ties
Hair bands
a square of cardboard
Super glue

Start by cutting yourself a template from your square of cardboard (mine was about 20cm wide) by cutting a slit up the middle of the cardboard.

Next, fold your ribbon around the template and pinch it in the middle, securing a cable tie around the pinch. Before tightening the tie, adjust your ribbon so it's even.

Use a second cable tie to secure the hairband to the bow. This will ensure it's on nice and tightly. Then, cut a short length of ribbon to wrap around the cable tie and hairband (I used about 4cm) and secure it with superglue. VoilĂ !

 I then went on to add a couple of hotfix gems which jazzed them up a bit! As an extra little tip, if you like your bows to be extra stiff, spray them with hairspray.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Home Made (Ginger and Mint) Lemonade

Yesterday it was beautifully sunny so my family and I hit the garden to soak up some sunshine.

However, I was craving one thing- home made lemonade! Last year I stumbled upon a Delia Smith recipe which was yummy, but personally I prefer something with a little more kick. Therefore this year I whipped up this little variation which I find just as refreshing, but has that bit more of a 'zing'.

You will need:
5 lemons
150g of caster sugar
a knob of ginger
a few sprigs of mint
1.5l of water

Start by grating the lemon and the ginger into a large saucepan. Be careful only to grate the outer yellow part of the lemon, not the white layer underneath as the white layer is quite bitter. Next, rip up the mint leaves and add them to the saucepan, along with the juice of the lemons and the sugar.

Finally, boil the water and pour it over the contents of the saucepan. Stir and leave to infuse over night. The next day, simply pour the mixture through a sieve and then you're done! Serve chilled with a sprig of mint.

Sit back, relax and enjoy!