July Favourites 2014

It’s time for another favourites post to share what I’ve been loving this month.

New camera! Before this one I had the Canon EOS 400D which is around 8 years old. I think I had it for about 6 years and I learnt a ton about photography in that time. There’s always more to learn though! (I recently took a course and I’m starting video editing in Sept!)

My new camera is the Canon EOS 1200D which has video capabilities. All my previous lenses fit and I was able to get a good deal with a free tripod and camera bag too.

Canon-EOS-1200D-Camera

Staying on the camera theme, I got this cute little case for my Fuji Film Mini Instax to keep it protected.

Fuji-Film-Instax-Mini-Camera-Case

It bugs me that it is a different shade of pink to the camera though! I guess that’s the risk with buying online.

Fuji-Film-Instax-Camera-Case

A fellow blogger and I did a parcel swap recently and in mine was this fab bicycle cup from Sainsburys. I’ve been using it non stop.

Bicycle-Drinking-Cup

A friend shared a fab geeky cross stitch shop with me this month and I couldn’t resist getting a pattern! You can find a huge selection at Clouds Factory here. Goodness knows when I’ll have time to sit and stitch!

Clouds-Factory-Geek-Cross-Stitch

I feel like I’ve been searching for a decent glue runner forever. The ones in the US are so much better. I found this super sticky Crafter’s Companion one in Hobbycraft but it’s also available on Amazon. Stationery makes me happy alright?!

Crafters-Companion-Glue-Runner

I’ve been enjoying the odd sweet treat lately and my lovely cat sitter and dear friend Lucy left these macarons in my fridge for our return home from holiday. WHAT AN AWESOME PAL! Oh and I don’t share macarons. Sorry peeps they’re just too good.

Macarons

Another sweet treat G and I have been enjoying is Pocky. I found some cool flavours we haven’t tried before on Artbox whilst shopping for stationery. Thumbs up for the milk ones (I absolutely hate banana so G scoffed those).

Pocky-Sweets

A bit of a random list of favourites there! I am conscious that a lot of my favourites are ‘things’ and I am aiming to live in a less materialistic and cluttered home, so I’m having a clear out this summer. Keep your eyes peeled for some eBay and Depop goodies on sale soon. Crafters especially, as my stash needs cleansing.

Toodles!

Claire

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Instalife: February

Where did February go? I’m already collating Instagram pictures and it seems like January only just began! I had a quiet month of taking more time for myself and my health did improve slightly, yay!

I haven’t had a big migraine since the beginning of February, so that’s something, but I have felt very fatigued which has been hard. In March I’ll go to London to see the specialist  again so I’m feeling a bit more positive.

Anyway, you are probably wondering what I’ve been up to, so here is my Instalife round up for February.

Baking February Macaron making with Dizzy / The finished treats 

Home made Sweet Potato Crisps / Thorntons Dessert Chocolates = AMAZE

Cambridge February Cambridge looking pretty at sunset / Pink bicycle on the market square

Preparing for #SheepishHeartBomb / My finished yarn bomb garland

Craft February

Evening jewellery making / New wooden stamp set

Cute new elephant print fabric / Amazing sewing themed buttons

Life February

Tea time for one / Daffodil blooms to will Spring to arrive

Snuggles with Tammy / Valentines outfit

What did you get up to in February? If you’d like to follow me on Instagram, you can find me under Claireabellemakes.

claireabelle

A Crafty Cakey Birthday

Cupcakes

Last weekend I celebrated my birthday weekend with friends, mostly being calmed that I have one more year until I am 30!

On Saturday we had a friend’s wedding. G was best man and did a fantastic speech. I realised in the (almost) decade we’ve been together, I’d never heard him speak in public. I was one super proud girlfriend. Lots of people at the wedding also commented that they thought he looked like Prince William, so I’ve decided by default I must be as fabulous as Kate Middleton hehe, just kidding!

On Sunday we took the train into London to meet some friends for lunch and do a spot of craft shopping. We were in the midst of the Christmas shopping crowds on Regent Street and I realised it wasn’t a great idea as we were pulling along a mini suitcase and G was carrying his suit. I am completely desensitised to London these days. Funny how Cambridge has changed me!

An absolute must for me was to visit All The Fun of the Fair in Kingly Court, which is a lovely festive courtyard, close to Carnaby Street. It’s one of my favourite shops and they were kind enough to have a birthday present for me when I mentioned I was coming! It’s such a gorgeous, colourful, quirky shop I could have spent hours in there. G let me choose some buttons and ribbon and he even got a little knitted cactus as a pressie for one of his friends (she apparently dressed as a cactus at a costume party once and was known as ‘cactus’ thereafter!).

We had a great chit chat with the owner Buzz and window shopped around the rest of the stores which included a quaint tea room, kooky jewellery stores and a trendy reading lounge full of books.

All The Fun Of The Fair

I couldn’t visit London without a stop off at Laduree Covent Garden. I LOVE MACARONS. Cost a fortune but they were so worth it. G and I had tea and macarons when we arrived home. Only china cups and saucers would do this time.Laduree Macarons

I felt well and truly spoiled by my friends and family. Here are some of the lovely gifts I received. A great set of book ends displaying a teeny weeny fraction of my baking books.

Bake Book Ends

A beautiful wooden sewing box which has been on my Amazon wish list for a while.

Wooden Sewing Box

A collection of ribbons and buttons from G, All the Fun of the Fair and my friends who got married. They also gave me a delicious cake at the wedding, it was so sweet!

Ribbon & Buttons

I had a fantastic weekend, despite battling a migraine the whole time. It was a bit too busy and stressful at times, so I plan to take it fairly easy over the next few weeks, so I can be well enough for my holidays in December.

Having said that, I have so much prep to do for upcoming craft markets, eek!

claireabelle

Macaron Love

My close friends will know that I’m a little bit obsesssed with French Macarons. Light and chewy in the middle, a bit size treat and fat free which I constantly remind myself of. That means I can have more right?! Next week I’ll be visiting London for my Masters graduation and will definitely make a stop at Laduree for a box of treats, I can’t wait.

Periodically, I’ll bake a batch to share with others, but many don’t even make the construction stage and jump right off the baking sheet and into my mouth. These almond meringue sandwiches are a real delight, so it only seems right to share a recipe for Strawberry and Vanilla Macarons.

I’ve adapted it from a Marcus Wareing recipe and one from a Love Food book called ‘Macaroons’.

Ingredients

75g Ground Almonds (gives the chewy and slightly nutty flavour)

115g Icing Sugar

2 Large Egg Whites (room temperature)

50g Caster Sugar

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Food colouring (your choice)

Good quality Strawberry Jam (for filling)

Makes 16

  • Place ground almonds and icing sugar into a food processor and blend for 15 seconds. Sift mixture into a bowl.
  • Line a baking sheet with baking paper. I have this nifty silicone macaron mat which my sister gave me for Christmas from the wonderful Squires Kitchen. It makes piping the rounds much easier later on.

  • Whisk egg whites until holding soft peaks. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar to make a firm glossy meringue. (Hold above your head to test!) Whisk in the vanilla extract. (Sadly my life is without a Kitchen Aid, but my good old Kenwood handmixer does the job).
  • Using a spatula (I love the silicone ones), fold in the almond mixture into the meringue, one third at a time.

  • When dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, add a splash of food colouring and continue to cut and fold the mixture until it becomes shiny, with a thick ribbon-like consistency. I need to invest in some good food colouring pastes, as the cheap stuff doesn’t produce a nice vibrant colour for macarons once baked.

  • Pour the mixture into a piping bag. My tip is to place the piping bag (I’ve used a disposable today for ease) into a glass and fold the top over. It’s much easier to fill this way and keeps it sturdy.

  • Pipe small rounds onto the baking sheet. If you don’t have a silicone mat, you can mark circles in pencil on the sheet with a round cookie cutter or similar.
  • In hindsight, I would have tried to have keep my piping ‘flatter’ so as to produce a smooth macaron after baking.

  • Tap the baking sheet firmly on the work surface to remove air bubbles. Leave macarons at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 160 degrees / Gas Mark 3.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, cool for 10 minutes and carefully peel of baking paper. Don’t be tempted to pull them off before they have cooled as they will stick to the baking paper!

  • I used Bonne Maman strawberry jam to sandwich pairs together, as I think it’s the best you can buy in the supermarket and the jars are super cute for vases and craft projects afterwards!

  • Enjoy with a cup of herbal tea. I put some on my favourite childhood plate (Bunnykins – anyone remember?) & they didn’t stay there long!

Unfilled macarons will keep in an air-tight container for 3-4 days or can be frozen for up to 1 month. They are best eaten at room temperature an hour or so after filling.

What flavours would you try when making macarons? I like rosewater and lavender tones and pistachio is a perfect flavour. Let me know if you try them and what flavours you explore.

Lastly, how cute are these patisserie boxes from Lakeland?

Claire x