Totoro appliqué skirt – with mini freezer paper stencil tutorial

I am so excited today! I have finally finished the Totoro skirt that my daughter has been asking for. We looove both Totoro and Ponyo, such lovely movies, we end up watching them over and over, we’ll probably check out other Studio Ghibli ones too soon.

My neighbor Totoro poster

Back to the skirt! I was actually planning on doing a stitched on appliqué (would have loved to make it with super soft minky!) but then I realised that doing the little details, eyes, nose, patches on the belly, would have made it quite tricky and potentially end up with me continuously swearing at the sewing machine until finally giving up. Not a good plan.

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I made the skirt a couple of weeks ago, and the little lady was ever so pleased when I let her help me trace the pattern on the fabric. She seems to be quickly turning into a fabric addict like mummy, I won’t go into details about the love affair she had with some organza I bought to  make her a birthday dress – they literally became friends for a few days.

Today, while agonising again over the thought of stitching tiny things onto that skirt, I had a lightbulb moment and remembered it would have been much easier and quicker to use fabric paint and freezer paper stencils instead!

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With Aida being at nursery and Max having a nap, I got to work and printed out an easy image that I liked on normal paper, then traced it on the freezer paper (it’s slightly see through so easy to do), remember to keep the waxy side down!

Then starts a very tedious job: cutting the shapes out. I use a paper craft knife but if your design is not full of little details you could have a go at just using normal scissors. Remember to keep any bits you might need – for example, I had to keep eyes, nose, mouth and the big belly part. Done? Great, stick it to your chosen fabric by putting it on waxy side down (in contact with the fabric) then passing a hot iron on it.

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The hard part is over now! All  you need is some fabric paint (I used Dylon Fabric Paint in metallic silver), dab it only gently, ideally with a foam brush, making sure not to overwet the paper thus making it peel off. When I finish I like to wait a few minutes and then carefully peel off the paper, using tweezers to remove the little details inside – once I tried letting the paint dry completely before removing the paper and it was a bit of a disaster as it had created a film which stuck to both the fabric and paper! Learn from my mistakes.

Eek, I forgot the details in the mouth! Quick fix with a matchstick…

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Now, patience my friend. Wait until it’s fully dry, the put a cloth on it and iron it over to set the paint. Done! That was easy, wasn’t it? I hope to get pictures of the the little girl modelling it very soon, she’s very pleased with it – and so am I.

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Tomato risotto with a twist!

Today has been feeling a bit of a slow day, I think I’m still recovering from doing my longest ever run yesterday (13.5k, and I ran all the way, no walking or stopping!) and being kicked out of bed at 6am didn’t help either.

Soon to be breakfast smoothie!To give me a good kick start I had a huge morning smoothie as usual, that’s my only breakfast nowadays and I love it, it gives me a lot more energy and keeps me fuller longer than many other breakfasts, even things like porridge. I always change it a bit but the base is always a few bananas and a small handful of dates, it’s delicious just like that but I can add berries, pineapple (like today), spinach, green lettuce, mango… you get the idea. I’ve never added yogurt or other dairy, I just don’t feel the need for it. Also, I will need a total separate post on why I’m happy to eat so much fruit and not only I don’t believe it to be bad but I find it hugely beneficial.

Moving on! I had already today’s lunch planned (I’m trying to be good and make weekly menus to spend and waste less) so no last minute weird combination, instead we had a lovely tomato risotto, with a twist! My mum gave me this recipe when, not long ago, while on the phone to her I told her how it was almost dinner time, I had no idea what to make and an ’empty’ fridge.. she asked me what I had and I told her I pretty much only had pesto so it would have probably ended up in a fairly unexciting pasta with pesto. How wrong was I! This risotto is amazing and far from unexciting.

Now, yes, risotto does need you to stir and add stock almost continuously, but I’m often on my feet doing 10 things at once around the kids anyway so stopping for a quick stir every few minutes really isn’t that daunting to me, and the result is certainly worth it. It usually takes me about half an hour or less from start to finish.

Tomato risotto

INGREDIENTS

80-90g arborio (risotto) rice per person – I normally make 200g and that’s enough for me and 2 kids.
1 onion
1lt of sock
a tin of chopped tomatoes, or small bottle of passata
zest of one orange
2 tbsp pesto
olive oil/butter
seasoning

METHOD

Chop up the onion really finely and cook on a very low heat in a large pan with some olive oil (or butter) until they soften – not brown or burn! Easy does it. Put the stock in a separate saucepan on a low heat to keep it warm, if you use cold stock it will stop the rice from cooking properly.

Once the onions are soft, pour in the rice and let it toast for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes and a ladle of stock, stir well and cover. Keep on stirring it every few minutes and add stock ladle by ladle when needed, waiting until it’s completely absorbed until you add more. That’s it!

Season (though you may not need to as it’s been cooked with stock), then serve with a nice sprinkle of orange zest on top and a little pesto in the middle, and add some parmesan too if you like it. Done! It’s a great hit around here and so good for when I have no fresh ingredients in.

Tomato risotto

 

Did  you try it? Was it good? Was it horrible? Let me know! Any feedback is helpful 🙂

 

No refined sugar flapjacks

A long overdue post! I’m sure I did say I’m terrible at sticking to things, but nevermind, here I am again.

I have  little recipe for some yummy and healthy flapjacks today, I made them modifying a version of no added sugar flapjacks I’ve found on another blog and thought I’d share it! I had been looking for a while for the perfect recipe as my kids love the Goodies oat bars but they can be expensive to buy regularly and anyway I prefer to have homemade food, I think it’s good for them too to not get too used to eating things that come in fancy packaging.

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My daughter loves giving a hand to make them and we all love eating them, in fact they rarely last more than a day in this house.

Without further ado, here’s how to make them!

INGREDIENTS
150g stoned dates, chopped
5 tbsp apple juice or fresh orange juice
150g unsalted butter (I may try them with coconut oil to make them vegan soon)
100g sultanas
200g porridge oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice

 

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 170C (fan) slightly higher for non fan assisted.

Put the apple juice and the dates in a blender and blend, it will become a bit of a paste and may not be fully blended but that’s ok! Meanwhile, gently melt the butter in a saucepan on a low heat.

Chocolate!

Put the oats and spices in a large bowl, then add the sultanas, apple and dates mix and melted butter and mix well. Turn the mix into a lined deep square or rectangular baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned on top.  Cut into 16 squares and leave until fully cooled in the dish (they break apart otherwise, as you can see from my picture!).

I also like to make them a little naughty every now and then and add a little bit of dark chocolate, chopped in little chips. I use about 1/3 of a bar and that seems enough for us 🙂

Flapjacks

 

Sorry about the poor picture, I will try to take better ones next time! They were a great snack to pack up and take with us at the kids’ first time playing bowling.

Playing bowling