We only have a small Red Russet tree in our garden… Sweet and crisp (and disease resilient) we managed to get about 4kg of fruit from a 3 year old tree. So we munched some, stored some and decided to make a twist on my Sussex apple cake .. mixed with a handful of Brambles from the riverside. It is super gooey and moist and delicious hot or cold.
- 500g Apples
- A handful of Blackberries
- 175g Unsalted Butter
- 175g light brown soft sugar
- 2tbsp demerara sugar (to sprinkle on top)
- 250g self raising flour
- 2 eggs
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 160 c
- Grease and line the bottom of a 20cm loose bottom tin
- Peel, Core and slice your apples. Cut the slices in half.
- Meanwhile cream/beat your butter and sugar in your mixer for at least 5 mins until super light brown (for an extra light cake)
- Beat in the vanilla, then eggs 1 at a time – (NOTE you can add 1 tbsp of the flour out of your flour quantity with each egg to stop the mix ‘curdling’)
- Add the apples – stir through.
- Sift the rest of the flour, baking powder and spices together, add to your mix and fold in thoroughly
- Pour into your cake pan
- Sprinkle your blackberries on top, then add the sugar
- Bake for 55 mins until golden and a skewer comes out clean
- Serve warm or cold with cream, ice cream, custard or a lovely cup of tea
Back in February my daughters friend bought her a ‘friendship bracelet kit’ … at the time I didnt give it much thought .. just another kids friendship bracelet kit. Then she made me a fabulous neon pink striped bracelet and I gave it a better look.
Since then Loombands have become not just an obsession in our household, but in many others too. I have literally been obsessed stretching rubber bands onto a grid and seeing what happens when they are hooked off… sometimes it works, sometimes it unravels. Like all really cool crafts – it is simple in concept .. with a very broad appearl my 5 year old is able to create simple but effective pieces and those more adventurous and older folk use them to make all sorts of products.. even clothing.
I am off to play and am thinking about posting a few of my ideas on our You Tube Channel… watch this space
May / June (depending on the weather) is when the hedgerows in Sussex begin to fill to the brim with Elderflower. A few years ago our Autumn hedgerows could be foraged at our leisure for the brambles and sloes to make our Autumn foraged foods… but the trend for all things home made has seen us have to strategically plan our hedgerow attack.. to ensure we dont get pipped to the post!
At the moment Elderflowers are still not widely harvested… so our stash is safe for now and we are making bumper batches to keep in the larder. Over the years I have used different recipes – but have decided that this version makes the most potent brew with the least amount of ‘faffing’
Firstly pick your heads on a dry (preferably sunny) morning – for maximum flavour. The flowers should be in bloom – neither in bud nor wilting brown.. and I pick the whole head and count the bounty like this.
For my recipe you will need 30 heads of elderflowers – which makes approximately 1.5 litres of cordial.
YOU WILL NEED
- 30 Elderflower Heads (pick them on the morning of making)
- 1.5 litre of water
- 1.5kg sugar
- 3 unwaxed lemons
- Campden tablet (optional)
- Gently shake the flower heads and leave then in a bowl in the shade for any bugs to scuttle away. DO NOT WASH.
- Boil the water
- Zest and slice the lemons and place in a large bowl along with the sugar
- Put the flowers in the bowl too and pour over the boiling water
- Gently stir until the sugar is dissolved
- Leave to steep for at least 24 hours – covered with a teatowel
- Place a muslin in a seive and place this over a large pan – pour over your concoction and allow to drain into the pan
- Gently bring to the boil and then allow to simmer (bubble gently not furiously) for 10 minutes
- Meanwhile prepare your bottles by running through the dishwasher or rinsing under a hot tap
- Using a funnel – pour the cordial into the bottles and close
- NOTE: The citrus stops the cordial fermenting and so this should keep for about a month in the fridge. If you want it to store for longer you can replace the lemons with 7g of citric or tartaric acid … or just before bottling you can add a dissolved campden tablet, used in winemaking, which means you can store your produce for up to 1 year!
My favourite mix? A large dash of cordial, an measure of botanical gin topped with soda water and a cucumber icecube.. a taste of Summer
23rd April is St Georges Day – the patron saint of England. Unlike our Irish, Welsh and Scottish kinfolk we don’t have a national holiday, although there was a time (around 15th Century) when it was bigger than Christmas! However if you are feeling patriotic, here’s our salute to the red and white colours of St George the dragon slayer… which you can shop here
We have created an alternative Red Cross Paper Printable (A4 size to craft with at will) and Straw Flag to celebrate – but it is actually just a cool cross pattern. Download here.
Despite the incredibly cold weather, we are still ever hopeful that Spring is on its way! Easter is next weekend and yesterday was the Spring Equinox.. so we are dusting out our clutter and having an indoor makeover in the hope of some sunshine sometime soon!
Meanwhile our EASTER DEPARTMENT is open for business and our Rainbow Rabbit Garland is hopping off the shelves… along with our Daisys and Eggs, it seems you are all feeling the Spring Love. We have also produced another PDF printable – Easter Straw Flags for your downloading pleasure.. and are working on some new shapes and styles for future events.Oh and if you fancy some calorie free chocolate – we have some DIY Chocolate Pom Pom kits based on our Video Tutorial launched this week.
Fingers crossed for a little sunshine x
Our Pearl and Earl Paper Pom Poms are a real hit for weddings, parties, Christmas and celebrations.. and for those who dont like to make things we sell them ready to ‘frou’ as well as making bespoke sizes and variations for clients.
The DIY fans amongst you may already know how to make these on your own… but for those who don’t, today sees the launch of the first of our new DIY videos. Featuring homemade video (bit shaky) a soundtrack from Feeder and easy to follow subtitles.. we think it does the job! I chose to make giant chocolate Pom Poms for Easter… but you can choose whichever colour you like!
Enjoy, and let me know how you get on! x
PS Update: Due to limitations on the license of the Feeder track, we had to substitute it on some of the formats with ‘In the Dark’ by Joi Veer…
Today is RED NOSE DAY.. a day dedicated to fun and frivolity in the name of a good cause AKA Comic Relief. The charity was set up by Richard Curtis (Notting Hill writer) 25 years ago (makes me feel old!) … and since then has raised over £600,000,000 for good causes by entertaining people.
We got involved last week with the kids, by dressing up and selling cakes.. and I have also designed (along with the children) a set of notelets for the schools Red Nose fund raiser…. We were also thrilled to be asked by the production team to set dress Peter Kay’s piece which was filmed for airing tonight. All hush hush so we cant say any more until after the event.
Our front door today is wearing one of our red paper balls as a big red nose, and I have also created a free DIY paper printable Straw Flag and Cake Topper for you to use at your money raising event..
Have fun.. and please post us your pictures of your event or use of our printables.
St Patricks Day is this weekend on March 17th… and to add to our collection of Straw Flags and DIY Paper Printable projects, I have created these shamrock paper straws and shamrock patterned paper for PDF download. Available for immediate download from our site, we have also created a collection of green paper decorations for your decorating pleasure!
The straw flags are free for a limited time using code SHAMROCK with any straw purchase online.
>>SHOP ST PATRICKS
My baby girl turned 8 last week… and we hosted a DIY Crafternoon Party to celebrate! The invitation list was whittled to 10 girls and 1 boy, and after consulting with my daughter she decided she would like a “Pink and Red theme with Strawberries, Moshi Monsters, Flowers and Rainbows”… a complete 8 year old mash up! So this is what I did…
Cake – Pink ombre layered cake with freeze dried strawberries and ditsy floral straw name bunting
Food – simple sandwiches with pink and red cakes and biscuits, fresh strawberries and pink cupcakes.
Decorations – Pink and Red Paper Decorations, with pink gingham fabric as a tablecloth and Pink and Red paper straws and party tabletop cups and plates
Activities – Paper Flower Headbands, Giant Rainbow Paper Flowers, Moshi Monster design your own tee shirt (using neon fabric pens)
Goody Bag – Taking home all the bits they made, plus a slice of cake and a bespoke initial cross stitch shoe bag project I made.
All in all, I think we made it work and all had crafty fun (interspersed with the obligatory quick dance to One Direction) for a snip!
Hope you had fun this weekend too x
PS – please forgive lack of professional photography – and quick snapped ‘on my phone’ pics, as I was busy making paper flowers, drawing moshi monsters and eating cake!
This weekend is Mothers Day.. and our MUM Poem seems to have been a popular present by the amount our little team have shipped over the last couple of weeks…
This month has also seen the expansion of our collection of DIY paper printables – to complement our Celebration range and Craft heritage. It will include lots of new delicious things – but first up we are offering this DIY Printable Mothers Day Mini Flags (for straws or little gifting touches) free on our site for this weekend only.
Perfect with some pink or red striped straws for a little Sunday cocktail – or we used them to add a little tag into a pot plant.
As per my earlier Celebration post.. this morning, as our family tradition, we made pancakes for breakfast (hence the rather dark looking picture this grim February morn).. delicious and a family fave, there are so many different ways to cook a pancake – some say leave the batter, some say add an egg at the last minute… but regulars will know I am not a lass with patience as a virtue – so this quick family heritage (strictly copyrighted) recipe whips up a pancake treat for four ..
Dora’s British Pancakes for Pancake Day
This is my grandma Dora’s recipe for simple pancakes, which has stood the test of time. She always went on look of the mix (same as her yorkshires) and was not one for measuring! It is a habit I have taken to – so last time I made them I measured everything!
- 100g / 4oz Plain Flour
- Pinch of salt (I often leave this out)
- 2 Large Eggs
- 200ml / 7floz Milk
- 75ml / 3floz Water (NOTE: you can use all milk if you want something a little creamier)
- Rapeseed oil (or veg oil) for cooking
- Heavy bottomed frying pan – 12inch
Makes about 10-12 pancakes depending on your pan size, and often we make a double batch to ensure everyone has their fill!
- Measure out your flour (and salt) into a bowl (I don’t bother to sieve but others do)
- Measure your liquids into a jug for ease of pouring
- Put your pan on the heat – to get it going – it has to be HOT to avoid sticking
- Make a well in the center and crack in your eggs
- Add a dribble of the liquid and start to ‘whisk’ from the middle gradually adding liquid and combining the flour from the side of the well. This slow adding process making a paste consistency first is what stops lumps!
- When you have a lump free paste loose creamy based concoction – add in the rest of your liquid slowly so that you have a mix the texture of single cream
- Whisk up, ensuring you have all the bits from the side and a smooth mix
- Your pan should be piping hot by now – and if you are not a multi-tasker you can wait to heat up your pan at this point when you attention is full on the heat!
- Add a dribble of the oil and you can always use a bit of kitchen towel to ensure the pan is fully covered, especially for the first pancake.
- For my 12 inch pan 1 ladle full is a pancakes worth of mix
- Drop in the center of your oiled hot pan and tip it round to cover the base of the pan. It should not be ‘thick’
- Use your spatula to lift from the edges after a minute and you can flip with the spatula or up in the air if you are feeling brave!
- Cook on the other side for a minute or so. Your pancake should be a light golden colour
- Top with whatever takes your fancy!…. we love lemon and sugar, tate and lyle syrup, honey, maple syrup and banana (my choice) or just sugar…
Are you a roller or do you like them flat?
Whats your topping? (no savoury ones in our house I’m afraid!)
Enjoy! … x
Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday in French) and Shrove Tuesday are one in the same… a Carnival Celebration before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Some cultures dress up, go wild and fill their boots with food and frivolity before the fast ahead. Us Brits? Well we make pancakes!
Whilst I love a pancake as much as the next man, sometimes I feel like we drew the short straw on this celebration.
New Orleans (a city with an obvious French heritage) is perhaps the most famous of Mardi Gras – with colours of Purple Green and Gold and beads galore being handed out in the streets… as everyone shakes their booty, indulges and parties!
So if you fancy an excess / any excuse for a party (after Chinese New Year at the weekend)… continue the gold, add a bit of purple and green….turn up the tunes and Carnival….
Failing that you can join us in heating up the frying pan, grabbing a few lemons, flour, eggs, milk and sugar – and toss up a storm.! (see our pancake recipe if in this group!)
Whichever way you celebrate – as always “Have a Good Do!”
As promised, here is the recipe for my Grandma Dora’s famous bonfire toffee… this is a recipe I was hesitant to share when I first published it in 2009! After 3 years it deserves a reblog – which I may well do every year, as that and my TOFFEE APPLES are brilliant for Halloween, Bonfire Night, or indeed anytime at all!
My wonderful, colourful Grandma Dora has been a huge inspiration for me and she sadly passed away over 15 years ago. But her legacy of colour, pattern and hit family recipes live on and her influence on Pearl and Earl’s style is obvious to anyone who knew her… infact my book Supersize Stitches is dedicated to her memory.
If you count calories, or don’t like things stuck to your teeth – this is not the recipe for you! But every year we made this without fail and it was without a doubt the best thing about firework night… I believe the best recipes are those with memories attached, as they somehow envoke an extra taste sensation! There are tons of variations of treacle toffee – which if you manage to keep your mitts off, makes a great home made gift at Christmas… ours is cloudy and can be a little chewy (attempt to chew at your own risk!)
Approach with caution; toffee gets very, very hot (up to 140 °C/ 270°) as it is boils. Treacle Toffee keeps very well stored in an airtight tin so make enough for Bonfire night and extra toffee for Christmas.
So here it is:
Grandma Dora’s Bonfire Toffee
300g / 12oz Demerara sugar
100g / 4oz butter
2 level tablespoons of golden syrup
1 level tablespoon black treacle
4 tablespoons of water
7 inch square tin (or 12×4 inch) – lightly greased with ground nut oil (as it does not affect the flavour)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Combine ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan
- Heat slowly, stirring until the butter melts and sugar dissolves
- Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes
- Do a first Test by dropping mixture in a cup of cold water, it should set (or at least be a rounded ball)
- If not set
- Uncover and continue to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally to avoid sticking, and checking for a set every couple of minutes
- Pour into the tin and leave to set / cool * Tip – use a spatula to ensure you have every last drop to avoid extra pan scrubbing!
- Turn out and break up with the end of a rolling pin!
Makes 1lb/500g cloudy treacle toffee
EAT, WATCH FIREWORKS, THEN BRUSH TEETH VIGOROUSLY!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN folks! Well the day is finally upon us and the kids are geared up for tricking and treating tonight with their home decorated bags… judging by the sales of our Halloween Decorations, it seems likes lots of you are celebrating in style! We had our own kids party at the weekend – and I made this giant (40cm) 5 layer pumpkin head cake – complete with coloured sugar and glitter and sugar paste features.
The children had hours (literally) of fun making Halloween Cake Toppers out of sugar paste, which to them was simply play dough you could eat!
Our Halloween Bat, Bling Cat and BOO decorations were perfect additions to our dessert bar which included Chocolate Orange Cake Pops which I made from the left over ‘cut off’ bits of the big cake and buttercream, covered with melted chocolate orange flavoured drops. You can see my old cake pop DIY here.
Goodie bags featured an orange cotton bag which the kids decorated themselves with fabric crayons and pens… which they then filled with goodies from the treats table.
However you decide to celebrate – we hope you “Have A Good Do”
Inspired by the colourful Day of the Dead Mexican Celebration (on 1st November), we think these Halloween Printable Garland Skulls Decoration by TheDollCityRocker are a brilliantly colourful alternative for Halloween.
Following on from my Halloween Bat post and Part 1 of the DIY yesterday, you will now be ready to Decoupage your Bat or Cat. To do this I created and used my own Halloween paper covered in bats, but you can use any old or new papers that you like (they dont have to be specialist decoupage)
There are plenty of decoupage methods – but I am a fan of the quick wonders of Mod Podge. An all in one glue and glaze it takes the stress out of decoupage and you can apply and finish your crafty project super quickly – as drying time is only 15 minutes.
For the Bat you will need:
- Mod Podge Glossy
- 2 A4 sheets of decoupage paper
- First cut up your decoupage paper into mini strips – approx 1x2cm long.
- You will probably not need both full sheets – but it is better to have more than less
- Using your brush and modpodge – working from the top of the bats ears – glue your strips into place
- Coat each with a layer of mod podge and then overlap the next piece, working down the bat until covered
Let it dry for 15-20 minutes and you may want to apply another thin coat as a final varnish.
To finish the bat you will need:
- 2 black pipe cleaners
- 2 sheets of grey tissue paper
- hole punch
Method (see pic slideshow below):
- For each wing, you will need to fold the tissue in half (short to short side) and then in half again
- Starting from one end fold over approx 2cm and continue along (accordian style) until you have fold the whole sheet
- On the top folded end – hole punch in the center of each fold so you can easily thread through the pipe cleaner.
- Fold one end of the pipe cleaner over and then over again to form a kind of ‘claw’
- At the other end of the folded paper – cut a diagonal edge
- Then open out the wing and using scissors cut a bat shape along the bottom edge
- Using the sharp end of the scissors push in a hole into your bat – so that you can attach the other end of the pipe cleaner
- You can then fluff up the wing so that it opens out
- Repeat for other wing
- Using a stapler attach the 2 halves of the wings together on the bat at the back
- You can use this method to attach a piece of ribbon folded in half to hang your bat too.
Then hang and have a happy 4 year old … well that’s what I did anyway!
Tomorrow .. its the turn of the BLING CAT finale
Design copyright – J Pearce and sons! 2012 All rights reserved
Following my blog post last week about our Paper Mache and Decoupage Cats and Bats - here is the promised DIY Part 1 – the paper mache / modelling bit.
You will need:
- Old newspaper or recycling paper
- Masking Tape
- Kitchen Roll
The Papier Mache stage involves creating a stabling, contoured model with a smooth layer to decoupage or paint in the final step. This is my ‘quick and clean (ish)’ paper mache technique which does not involve as much paper, the mess of newspaper ink or the need for wire. I usually put a piece of oil cloth on our kitchen table to work on – as it is easy to wipe clean afterwards (even when the glue sets).
- For the bat – screw up 2 balls – 1x10cm diameter and the other a longer version about 15cm.
- Using Masking tape stick them together and wrap the masking tape round your structure in pieces until you have a shape you are happy with
- Pull up 2 tiny bits of paper as ears and wrap a small amount of masking tape round them until you are happy with the basic pointy ear shape.
- The cat uses the same technique but the balls are a bit bigger (15 and 20cm diameter) and I also taped a circular piece of cardboard on the bottom to create a flat surface. The tail was a twisted piece of paper secured in place with tape too.
- Next you have to make your own glue, I have tried and tested a few, and my preferred concoction is a mix of 3 parts water to 1 part flour – mixed in a milk pan and placed on the heat until it resembles thick soup. Allow to cool and it is ready to use.
- I have used both newspaper and kitchen roll to model with and I have found that the kitchen roll is easier to prepare, use and model. Plus you dont end up with newspaper print fingers!
- Prepare your kitchen towel by taking several sheets tearing it along the grain into 2cm width strips. Get a good pile ready so that you dont have to do this with gloopy fingers!
- When ready – dip your strip into the glue, then lay it onto your model, crossing over the strips in different directions as you go – which will create a stronger finish.
- Work the head first, then the body.
- Make sure the layers are not too thick or it will take forever to dry!
Leave to dry for 24 hours.
- I use a cake rack to make sure it does not stick to the surface, and the flour glue will easily wash off afterwards.
Thats the end of Stage 1 .. let it dry and Stage 2 is tomorrow
Design copyright – J Pearce and kids! 2012 All rights reserved
Halloween has arrived at Pearl and Earl HQ and we have a LOT of paper decorations!.. a sneaky peek of some I posted here. But no Halloween is complete without a little bit of DIY – especially if it is child friendly – as then it gives you something to entertain the troops in half term.
A couple of weeks ago, I was working on a big papier mache project for editorial and the kids were desperate to get involved; so I asked them which 2 animals they would like to do for Halloween? Fin (4) wanted a flying bat and Libby (7) a cool cat and so together we have created a bat and cat DIY to share.
The projects were completed in 2 stages over 2 weekends and involve 2 paper crafts that I love – Modelling (with Papier Mache) and Decoupage (my latest obsession). But you can just as readily complete it over 2 days – allowing 24 hours for the papier mache to dry out. You could also opt to paint your model instead of decoupaging to cut another corner.
So over the next couple of days I will be breaking down the projects into bite size chunks for you to complete.
Part 1 to follow …
HALLOWEEN has arrived in full effect at HQ this week.. and we have a super chic selection of paper decorations to add a little paper bling chic to your celebrations.
Our Paper Honeycomb Balls come in our own dyed shades of retro orange and midnight black.. then we have matching garlands, fringe festooning, paper striped straws and crepe streamers.. and best of all the cutest paper pumpkins. Last year I launched a SPOOKY FACES PDF (including a moustached pumpkin) which you can still download here.
More DIY ideas and invites to follow…