Monday 27 August 2012

Good Old Fashioned Morning Tea

Nothing says 'I appreciate you' or 'thanks so much for what you have done for me' more than putting on a good old fashioned morning tea.

After a recent electical fire related misadventure in my teaching room at school, we were relocated into a neighbouring classroom; thus displacing some of my colleagues. Now the repairs are done and we are back to normal in our new beautiful Textile Room, it was time to say a really big and heart felt thank you to everyone who gave up their teaching space and generally helped me in my hour, or rather month, of need.

One furious Sunday spent in the kitchen resulted in delicious Chocolate cake with butter cream icing, Mini Citrus Cheesecakes, Carrot Cranberry Cup Cakes with cream cheese icing, gluten free Rice Bubble Cake, Sticky Lemon Slice and Home Smoked Salmon with creamy caper dip. 

Everyone was overjoyed with the morning tea. It added a celebratory atmosphere to Teacher Only Day and  helped to lighten a long day of professional development.

Here is one of my tried and true recipes. These are an old favourite that always go down well. They can be cooked as a cake - just bake at 160 Deg. C for approx 30-40 minutes. 

Carrot  and Cranberry Cup Cakes

1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup oil (flavourless oil like canola or grapeseed)

Beat the sugar and eggs together, then beat in the oil
Add 1 1/2 cups of grated carrot and 3/4 cup dried cranberries
Sift together      1 heaped cup flour
                          1 teaspoon baking soda
                          1 teaspoon cinnamon
                          1/2 teaspoon salt
Fold all the ingredients together and place into individual cup cake cases
Bake for 10 minutes at 170 degrees C until a cake tester comes out clean.

When cold ice with the following:
250g cream cheese
80g butter 
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
Rind of 1 lemon
Beat the ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Use a star nozzle to pipe onto the top of the cooled cup cakes.

There is nothing that quite matches a good old fashioned show of gratitude. Happy Cooking!

Sunday 26 August 2012

Sustainable Nappies

When one of my significantly environmentally sustainable friends recently shared her frustrations with me at not being able to find a washable nappy made from natural fibre, I realised this is a huge gap in the New Zealand market landscape. All these shiny sweaty synthetic numbers lining the shelves, and not a modern fitted cotton nappy in sight. Never one to say no to a challenge and wanting to find a solution for my heavily pregnant friend, I got my scissors out.

A few minutes browsing at the fabric store surrendered a suitable pattern (KwikSew 3690)and some lovely fluffy 100% cotton towelling. Some brushed cotton fabric from my stash, plastic snaps and a bit of elastic later and I'm ready to get sewing.

I chose the plastic snaps because I did not want the trouble of getting the Velcro stuck on all those lovely new baby woollen knits.

The pattern comes with multiple sizes. I chose the X-small to start with.
Four layers of towelling to catch the wee

I zig-zagged the four layers of towelling insert together and sewed it to the towelling nappy liner.


Then put the right sides of the towelling and brushed cotton together and sew around using an approximately 8mm seam. Leave a gap at the front. 
I zig-zagged around the edges of the nappy to stop it from fraying. Then turn it in to the correct way.

Attach the elastic to the notches at back of the nappy and the legs using a zig-zag stitch.

Turn the nappy in the right way and pin the elastic into the channel that will hold it in place.
Its important not to sew the elastic, as it should float independently in the channel.

Top stitch right around the nappy; stitching out and around the elastic channels as you get to them. Be sure to stitch over the ends of the elastic to strengthen the nappy, so it doesn't go pop after its been washed a few times.

Using a zipper foot made it easier to get in close and sew a neat channel without sewing onto the elastic.
That's the hardest part over!

Now attach the snaps by cutting off six holes for the front and two plugs for each side. Pin and stitch, taking care to fold the cut edge of the snap tape over.

And your done!

I would definitely recommend making one nappy prototype to begin with; then once you have the hang of it make the rest production line style - doing one step at a time on each nappy.
I used 2m of towelling, 2m of brushed cotton and about 3m of 1cm wide elastic to make 12 nappies. I counted up the snaps and used 2 sets of 3 snaps for each nappy.
The towelling bits go everywhere when you cut the fabric out, so just be prepared for a cotton fluff invasion.

My friend has told me that these nappies are a far superior fit to the commercially available washable nappy, and that they dry quite quickly overnight when the heating is on. The natural cotton fibre absorbs wetness, allows the skin to breath, wont clog with nappy rash cream and is more comfortable than synthetics.