Sunday, 22 April 2012

Moroccan Sausage & Beans Cassoulet Thingy :0) x

A few weeks ago, whilst in my local butcher, I found these lovely spiced lamb sausages. I decided to buy some and pop them in my freezer for a rainy day. This tuesday, on an extremely rainy day, there was no way I was going to venture to the market on my weekly jaunt so examined the depths of my freezer and came across these spicy beauties :0)......just what the doctor ordered on this horrendous day. 

On opening my fridge to decide what to do with them I was dismayed to find two onions and half a wrinkled red pepper........ Unperturbed by the lack of inspiration (and duly egged on by a quick ponder whether I should grab my umbrella and brave the weather, then subsequently deciding wild horses were not going to drag me!!!) I checked my larder and found a nice selection of beans. With this I convinced myself I could create some Moroccan spiced cassoulet thingy. Those many hours clocked up watching Ready Steady Cook were not wasted after all!!! :0)

Feel free to adapt it how you like, maybe less spicy for the kids. You could also have some flat bread, pitta bread or cous cous on the side if you need a bit of a carb hit. It would be nice with pork sausages & Mediterranean flavours or a curry paste for an indian twist.......Fill your boots!!! 

Here's the recipe and I hope you enjoy.


2 tbsp Olive Oil
8 Spiced Lamb Sausages (Mine were a butchers take on Merguez or similar like these would work)
1 Large Onion, sliced
1 Red Pepper sliced

2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
1 tsp Baharat Spice Blend (or similar Moroccan spice blend eg Ras El Hanout)
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
Sliced Fresh Red Chilli or Chilli Powder, to taste (Optional, I like it spicy though)

3 x 400g Drained Tins Beans or Chick Peas (I used Butter Beans & Cannellini)
400g Passatta or chopped tinned tomatoes
1 tsp Sugar (or to taste)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Water or vegetable stock (I needed about 1/2 a tomato tins worth)
Fresh Coriander


1. Heat oil in large deepish lidded frying pan and brown sausages, no need to cook through as they will finish later. When nicely browned remove and set aside.

2. Fry onions over medium heat for 5 mins or till golden and soft then add Red Pepper & fry for further 2 mins. Next sprinkle in Garlic, Spices and fry gently for approx 1 minute, you will know when they are ready as you will start to smell the fragrant spices.

3. Throw in  Beans, tomatoes, sugar, salt & pepper and enough water or stock to give you the required consistency, then bring to a gentle simmer. Nestle the  sausages on top and pop on the lid.

4. Let it simmer for approx 20 - 30 minutes or until sausages cooked through. Keep an eye on it and stir occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn and if it seems a little runny just take off the lid to let the sauce reduce a little.

5. Serve sprinkled with coriander and some Sumac (I already had in my cupboard but no need to go out and buy it specially).

The only thing left to do is wash up one frying pan so everyone's a winner ;0)..........I'd love to know if anyone tries it so be sure to let me know how you get on!!! :0) x

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Cute Little Needle Felt Pups :0)

As I have previously said I was unduly tempted into buying a needle felt kit from my local guilty pleasures shop, Craft Days following an episode of Kirstie's Handmade Britain. Unfortunately it has since  been stashed away in my craft cupboard till I could find some inspiration on what to do with it.

Luckily my wish was answered this month when my new issue of Mollie Makes arrived and on the front was a some cute little dogs made by Gretel Parker. Of course when Mimi saw them I couldn't resist creating these little fellows for her.

Please meet Buttercup with his jaunty orange scarf and squiggly ball.......

and Peppermint with his petite beret and his very own ball (we don't want any arguing!!)

Mimi loves them so and of course has many other plans of family and friends for these little peeps, so keep a look out. Thinking they may make cute key rings too, any other ideas?

Monday, 19 March 2012

Spring Has Sprung in the Miggy Household!! - Phone / MP3 Cases

Phone / MP3 Cases £10
 Nanny Miller twists again!!!!......After my Vintage inspired tote bag &  ipad case I thought i'd try phone/MP3 Cases and as spring is in the air I just couldn't resist brightening it up a little too :0)

I have made them to snuggly accommodate my iphone with it's express on cover so I didn't need to add any closure but that could be added for extra security.

Keep a look out for them on Debs' jewellery stall at the next Great Garnets Farmer & Craft Market  


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Nanny Miller's Vintage Inspiration gets a 21st Century Twist!!!

After my experimentations with some old embroidery patterns in which I made my beloved little tote bag I thought i'd try to bring a similar design skipping merrily into this century. 

I found a lovely ipad case tutorial; it was such a cute simple design and I thought I could easily adapt it..........I decided to give it a lovely vintage fabric lining, embroidered a simple design taken from my Nan's patterns, then attached my cute felt tag that I love so much :0)

To fasten they had suggested using embroidery silks & buttons so I plaited the silks and finished it by threading some toning bugle beads, the buttons were some I found in my private stash.

I'm Really pleased with how it has turned out...........Next thing i'll maybe try some alternative colours and adapt into an iphone/ipod case when I get a moment.

Let me know what you think!!! :0) xx

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Recycled Paper Heart Bunting

Came across some lovely paper heart bunting on Etsy so thought i'd give it a whirl :0)

In contrast to my usual ad lib method I decided I would do some quick research into how to make the paper hearts. While I was doing this I came across this lovely blog which had a fantastic tutorial which I did read through and then proceeded to ignore, as I usually do :0)

I had an old well read book which had recently started to fall apart so thought this was a good start and also found some lovely yellow card buried in my stash.............well spring is coming, I can but dream :0)

With a few hurdles (which I am sure this tutorial would have ironed out :0') this is what I came up with. Not perfect by any means but a start :0)

Fortunately I have learnt that even though the paper & card I used was sufficient it was delicate. If I was making this for others I would be hesitant to repeat the recycled book without suggesting some type of reinforcement (but not sure if this would appear too bulky?)........... As well as this I would extend the central spine of the heart, used to thread them onto the bunting. This would enable you to directly attach the heart to the main cord which would achieve overall a cleaner finish and prevent the hearts from annoyingly spinning.

Your comments would be much appreciated :0)

Monday, 5 March 2012

To Market, To Market :0) x

After the kind offer from my friend to put some of my accessories on her craft stall, I have now labeled them up ready for sale. All excited but nervous at the same time :0?.........Unfortunately I can't join her this time as it's Brad's birthday but I will definitely try my best to tag along next month.

So if you are at Great Garnetts Farmers & Craft Market keep your eye out for my little treasures!!!!...... She did say it may be quiet this early in the year so i'm not expecting to sell much but it would be nice to hear some good feed back, fingers crossed :0) x

Please let me know what you think!!!!! :0)

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Knitted Rosebud Headband

Cute Needle Felting Ideas

As I have mentioned before I have recently discovered needle felting. On another tempting trip to my aforementioned Craft Days at Saffron Walden I came across this needle felting kit. I had intentionally gone in just to look and maybe buy the basics if I really couldn't contain myself.

As you can see I managed to sneakily buy the starter kit, readily egged on by Mimi aka Mini Miggy, whilst Brad (my poor forgiving hubby :0) perused the shelves of the gaming shop opposite. ..........In my head this was perfect justification as he invariably ends up being talked into the latest game my No.1 son just can't live without (naturally he is a complete push over!!)

I started by taking a crash course, courtesy of youtube. This helpful lady suggested using biscuit cutters to achieve a basic shape as shown in this photo. I used an old scrap of material as a base then proceeded to perforate my finger :0) until I had filled the cutter with the pink wool. 

I then removed the heart cutter and tidied the edges up by folding them in slightly to create a cleaner shape. Basically the more you stab your work with the barbed needle the firmer the finish. I then highlighted with a little of the green to create some interest. (with hindsight I probably didn't need the scrap of material as a base but i'll know for next time)

After this I removed as much of the material as I could without damaging my heart. As you can see it came in handy when I was test running my scarf ideas.

Here is a little pumpkin that Mimi also found on youtube, which she made along side me today (with only a little help from me). I really love this and she was more than chuffed as she absolutely adores these jolly little vegetables. A future halloween project I think :0)

Whilst she did this I made this little heart which I thought would look fantastic as a pendant on a necklace. 

Thanks to a quick trip to my Jewellery Guru, Debs (who unfortunately I can't thank via a link as she is still to learn about the wonders of online selling :0) I have now learned the different ways I could achieve the desired affect. This is what she has come up with in the space of about five minutes. I also came out with a few ideas that I will pop out and buy materials for tomorrow. I'm itching to try a cute little toadstool or a strawberry on a simple silver or gold chain for that retro candy style....... I'll let you know how I get on!!

I should also add that Debs has kindly offered to try and sell these and my scarves on her craft stall. I keep talking about it but she has finally taken the bull by the horns and offered :0).....Maybe if I have some anonymous success via her I will pluck up the courage and confidence to join her next time. 

Let me know what you think and if you have any further suggestions on more ways I could use this perky little craft. 


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Fabric Covered Button Hair Clips


Also been playing with covered button, I think they are quite cute. Fantastic for all those little scraps of fabric we all love to keep. 

You can buy purpose made cover buttons but I managed to make these using some boring old buttons I had laying around..........So many ways you could use them, any suggestions?

New Hand Knitted Scarf with Upcycled Zip Design

Really pleased with my new knitted scarf with upcycled zip design :0)

What do you think??? x

Friday, 24 February 2012

Knitting Miggy

Been loving wool recently. Something I haven't used really before but with a little help from youtube i've taken in a crash course in crochet (of sorts) and knitting.

I loved some of the crochet flowers that I had seen online so wanted to give it a go. After mocking up a rough idea using just finger knitting I went to my local craft shop, Craft Days in Saffron Walden to grab some crochets hooks.

Whilst there I got some much appreciated advice and managed to find some lovely wool which I just couldn't resist......... you know how it is, too many little treasures just calling from the sidelines :0)..... and set to work trying to crochet (trying being the operative word)

I'm sure that I still have much to learn but I was quite pleased with what I came up with. A simple rustic scarf finished off with a crochet or knitted flower decorated with a needle felt heart and buttons. They are so versatile. I like to wear them in my hair but they also look great as a choker, scarf, cuff, belt or even on you bag.

Just a quick thank you also goes out to my lovely friend Mags.

If it wasn't for her enthusiastic compliments this morning as she wrenched it from my hair (she was just about to cut my hair) they wouldn't have reached my little page of thoughts.

I love them but wasn't sure if the mumbled compliments from others really counted (well you are never sure if your 'crafty thing' is really universal).........It was purely the fact that she proceeded to model it round the salon displaying it's versitility.

I was so pleased I let her keep it :0).......So thanks Mags, hope you enjoy your Miggy original!!!! xx

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Easy Design Card Tutorial

In a recent issue of Making Magazine I saw these cute little cards which were promoted as a 15 minute project (as I have explained I am not the most patient of people so this was perfect for me :0). I had a spare hour yesterday before picking up the kids so thought i'd have a go.

To make punched Card you need the following:

Paper & Pencil
Blank Greeting Card (or feel free to customise your own from card)
Piece of foam or polystyrene
Thick sewing needle
Soft Rubber
Glue (suitable for fabric etc)
Bits & bobs for decorating (eg buttons, fabric, ribbons)

1. Mock a design on a spare piece of paper and when you are happy transfer this to your card.

2. Place the card on top of the foam (make sure you open out the card) Then you can use the needle to punch holes through the card along your lines at regular spaces (approx 2mm)

3. Gently use the rubber to remove all pencil lines and then use your buttons etc to decorate as desired.

I was banding around the idea of maybe removing areas with a craft knife, (similar to a doily) then maybe back them with contrasting coloured paper.This might lend itself to a more intricate design so I think i'll give this a go, i'll keep you posted!!

Another thing I thought would be nice is to utilise some lovely gift paper, wallpaper etc to make a lovely envelope as this great Mondocherry Tutorial.  
Or try some fabric ones like these beautiful ones I found on this Papernstitch Blog

Well, let me know how you go, I would love to know how you get on!! :0)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Nanny Miller's Vintage Inspiration - Tote Bag Tutorial

I really love my tote bags!!!! so useful to keep in your handbag for those unexpected purchases; but this one has special sentimental reasons for being my favourite. Firstly it was my first real finished piece (ok it is a little rough around the edges but hey that's part of it's charm) but secondly was that it always reminds me of my Nan. 
At the end of last year my Mum had been visiting an old childhood friend, while she was there she was given two big black sacks of sewing goodies that her friend had collected over the years. As some of you can understand this filled me with great excitement, what fantastic old fabrics and gadgets would I find?

As I sifted through the old fabrics, wools, knitting needles & half finished embroidery I came across an envelope which, I was surprised to find had a very old address of my Nan's, when I opened it there was an amazing stash of old iron on Anchor embroidery patterns. It turned out that like me, my mum's friend had also spent a lot of her childhood at my nan's house and often sat with my Nan learning the art of embroidery.

I would often visit my wonderful Nan and find her up to her arm pits in flour, but if she wasn't in the kitchen she would always have some half finished table cloth or jumper in her sewing bag next to the sofa to do. I loved to sit with her, or my granddad  for that matter, learning an array of their many skills. On seeing these patterns it immediately took me back and I decided I would like to find something to use them on.

Unfortunately I do not have the patience of my nan so knew that a table cloth was definitely not the way to go :0).........but I had recently read an article about Scandinavian designs which mentioned Scandinavian Needlecraft by Clare Youngs. I loved this bag on the front cover but had not actually got round to starting it. On seeing some of the patterns I thought it was worth a shot bringing those beautiful designs up to date.
I presumed that this bag was made using some type of felt but was unsure if that would have the strength I would need for often misused tote bag............luckily, also in this treasure trove of goodies, was a fabric which I can only describe as an very thick flannelette sheet, It was a bit bobbly but actually that was part of it's appeal. I decided (with fingers crossed)  this would work perfectly.

After ironing on the design I set to work trying to recreate the feel of Clare's bag. I used a mixture of what I think is backstitch, satin stitch and french knots (thanks to a quick tutorial with my very own needle guru, aka Aunty Pam, according to her there is a knack with french knots which I am sure I have already forgotten)

I did try to avoid too many of the heavier appearing stitches like the satin stitch so I kept that lighter feel, but felt I need a little to create some element of depth and variety. When I had finished the stitching I then marked and cut out around the design to a size of 285mm x 330mm plus a seam allowance (with a little extra at the top to enable you to create a nice tidy hem)  I always allow that little bit extra for errors. Then use this piece as a pattern to cut out another piece the exact same size for the back of your tote. With hindsight it may have been easier to cut out fabric to correct size before ironing on the pattern but as my Mum used to say 'I do tend to tackle things like bull in a china shop' :0)....Then I folded a 25mm hem which I pinned and machined. I then placed the two fabric pieces wrong side together and the hem at the top, pin or run a basting stitch along my final size bag ensuring the embroidery is squared then machine round. I then use pinking shears to tidy round the seams to prevent fraying to a certain extent.

Oooh nearly forgot......... to add that little extra something I also chose to add a small square of folded  felt, but it isn't imperitive. I did try to embroider a design but didn't seem to look right to me so kept with the button. (But don't get preoccupied with getting the bag straight and forget to add it before finishing the seam....not that I did of course :0)

As for the handles I wasn't sure of the correct way but they seem to do the job: I decided how long and wide I wanted them then cut two pieces slightly longer & 3 times wider. I then folded and ironed both pieces in half, tucked in the raw edges to give a clean secure finish and machined length wise along both edges. The handles are then pinned around 55mm from the edges (before stitching I just tried the bag for size to ensure the handles were correctly placed and sufficient length) When satisfied I have then sewn the handles inside the bag with a crossed box stitch as the picture. You could always finish off inside by placing a lining or iron over/stitch in some sort of interlining to protect your stitched design but it's something I haven't quite got round to yet.

Ta-da you have your very own handmade tote bag for those unexpected moments. I would love to know what you think and how you get on if this gives you some inspiration. Or even if you have some helpful advice on how to improve it for next time. Let me know!!!



PS if anybody knows what this material actually is please let me know as I have never been able to source it since, I would love to reproduce similar designs but at the moment I have hit a slight hurdle.