Saturday, 22 November 2008

On the plus side

There is a plus side of having no job - no office Christmas party! Horray!

Bah humbug.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Dressmaking Fail

This week I've been making a dress to wear to Ben's birthday bash on Friday night, but I failed. It's too small, and tight, and makes me look like a sausage.

I followed the 'instructions' in a book called 'Yeah! I Made It Myself', but it all went wrong because the book only shows a little hand-drawn picture with the measurements, so I had to make my own pattern and there was too much guess work involved. Lesson learned = use shop bought patterns.

This is the lovely, but thankfully cheap, Ikea material I wasted trying to make it:

Friday, 7 November 2008


I got flowers today!

They were from the bank, admittedly, to apologise for overcharging me, but they paid the money back and, aw, shucks, they shouldn't have.

Very nice, but they're still a bad bank ;)


Tuesday, 7 October 2008


We're roasting our own coffee - ooh la la!

We like coffee, and although we aren't afficionados by any stretch of the imagination, we do have a real coffee machine, and a grinder, and we drink a lot of coffee now we're at home all day. We also like to eat, and drink responsibly, so when we couldn't find organic and fair trade coffee beans in our local natuurwinkel (health food shop), we were a bit perturbed.

Then I got thinking. I had just read a blog post on Bifurcated Carrots about green coffee, which explains that roasted coffee, like the majority (all?!) of coffee on sale in the shops, only stays fresh for about 2 weeks after it's roasted, even if it's vacuum packed, so it's stale by the time we drink it. Bummer. Then I was reading an old copy of Readymade magazine on how to roast your own coffee beans using a popcorn machine, which we already have. It's like it was meant to be, so we decided to give home roasting a go and see if we could unlock the magic of fresh coffee.

First dilemma, what beans shall we buy? We went online to Ongebrand ('unroasted' in Dutch) and picked the cheapest coffee that was fair trade and organic - the washed Bolivia Arabica - for 9 EUR a kilo (plus 5 EUR p&p) and this little package was delivered the next day.

We love the sack. Nice touch Ongebrand. They phoned too, to check we knew we were buying unroasted beans. Good company.

Anyway, as instructed by this article in an Readymade, we stuck 100g of coffee beans in our 10 quid popcorn maker, and turned the machine on. Then waited, and it worked! 5 minutes later, we had little roasted beans. Check out the before and after. They turned from green, peanut like beans, to these brown, roasted beauties:

We had to wait a few hours before we could grind and drink them, so we waited, then we ground them, and the smell was incredible! It also tasted delicious! We're still in the testing period, and I think we'll roast them for a bit longer next time, but I think we could tell the difference. The coffee tasted really smooth, fresher, and didn't have so much of a bitter after taste.

So, we're happy and very excited about our new adventure. We get through about 500g of coffee every few weeks, so we'll have to work out how to roast in batches so we don't run out.

Happy! It's good having time.


Saturday, 27 September 2008


There's a new Etsy in town and it's called Folksy. This ebay for handmade stuff is based in the UK, so is a bit more European than Etsy, and is a bit closer to home, which means less postage costs.

These websites are great if you know what to buy for someone, but can't find it in quite the right style. Handmade is always cooler in my eyes.

It's only in it's Beta version at the mo, but it looks good. I wonder if it'll be able to compete with Etsy, and how sellers will be able to decide whether to sell on Etsy or Folksy, but I guess I'll just have to wait and see.


Sunday, 21 September 2008

Cake Hole

I spent the first part of the week wandering round the house aimlessly whilst Ben was at work and Hema were out of gloss paint (!), but I soon started feeling better when I finally decided to make a proper go at a cake making venture I've been thinking about for a while, where I'll make birthday cakes to order and deliver them to people in their offices in Amsterdam.

It's nice to have the time to work on projects, and this one is the perfect solution to my cake obsession - I get to make cakes but I don't have to eat them! So, I've decided to call the business 'Cake Hole', and have set up this blog, which I'm quite proud of.

I made an amazing chololate cake, which Ben took into the AKQA office, and they really liked it, so hopefully that'll drum up some business. Next, I need to make a flyer for friends to put up in their offices, and see if anyone'll order any. Hope so.

On the cycle home from our weekly Observer Newspaper run, I found this cup and saucers in the street - I love them, and they were free!


Thursday, 18 September 2008

Body Image

I've been watching a great four part series of documentaries in which Dawn Porter, an investigative journalist, deals with womens' issues.

So far I've watched her get investigate the myths and stereotypes surrounding lesbianism in Dawn Goes Lesbain, and winced at some of the things people conveniently don't tell you about giving birth in Dawn Gets a Baby (OMG!), then last night I watched Dawn Gets Naked, which dealt with femal body image. What an eye-opener!

It was really interesting to see how much the images of women we see in magazines - and aspire to look like - are Photoshopped. Obviously, I know pictures are photoshopped, but I thought they just removed spots, or evened out skin tone. Oh no. They change everything (shave off some fat, change the shape of a nose, clone an eye!) until they've made a perfect version of the woman, which is impossible to attain in real life and explains why celebrities always look so crap in real life, because that's how they actually look! Anyway, I can relate. I'm pretty thin after the trip (although I'm now about 5 cakes fatter than I was a month ago!), and I know it's vain and shouldn't matter, but being thin does make me feel good. There, I've said it. I'm officially a bad person.

The only episode I haven't seen yet is Dawn Gets Her Man, which airs on Friday at 9pm on BBC3 (sorry Amsterdammers, we have Sky! If you want to watch it, you'll have to come around here). I really hope she gets more work after his show, because she's really funny, and discusses topics that I'm genuinely interested in, in a very hands-on way. She also really reminds me of James Stanworth's lovely girlfriend Clare, so it's like watching your friend on TV :)

Speaking of look-a-likes, I have a doppelganger! There's a girl in Amsterdam that everyone says reminds them of me. I've seen her at a club (before I knew we were doppelgangers so I didn't get a good look) but about 6 people have told me how alike we are now. Very strange. Hope she isn't a complete bitch or anything - that'd be a bit humbling.

Debs, x

Monday, 8 September 2008

Jobless no-hoper

It's nice to have time off, but it's also a bit depressing being jobless. It's really amazing seeing what happens in the neighbourhood when I'm usually at work - there's a whole diferent world out there full of smelly people who wander round aimlessly, smelling bad, making me want to get back into the rat race, quickly, so I don't end up like them. Ppfh. I even watched some of This Morning today. What's next, The Jeremy Kyle show (watching, not participating, hopefully...!)? Shudder!

Anwyay. I'm feeling restless today, going a bit stir crazy, but looking forward to seeing Ilsa for lunch tomorrow then going for a swim.

Ben just showed me this 'What crafts are we making' Statshot from The Onion website - the dream-crusher column really made me laugh.


Saturday, 6 September 2008

Love is in the air

Ben and I have been married for 5 years today - horray!

Here's the card I made for Ben, and a little box of sweet nothings:

And here's the card he sent me:

We always celebrate by buying ourselves (or each other) something from the list of modern or traditional gifts for the year in question. This year the modern gift is silverware, and the traditional gift is wood, so we chose silverware and bought these beautiful little teaspoons, which were made in the 1890s. I love the way they're so delicate, and will last us a lifetime:

Some of them even have little initials carved into them - wonder if they were a wedding or anniversary gift for someone else in the past.


Friday, 5 September 2008

I finally made something

Phew, it's been a busy week. I've trawled though millions of jobsites (and applied for a few jobs), baked gingerbread, made samosas, and, finally, after weeks of feeling guilty about taking time to craft, I made a pin cushion!

There's a great shop called Handmade Heaven about 2 minutes away from my house, so I cycled off there in the hope of being inspired, and I was. I bought a little make your own pin cushion set for EUR 10, took about an hour to translate the instructions, then ignored them all and did my own thing. Perfect!

Here's the finished item:

And with sparkly pins:

The cross stitch pattern I bought in Thailand was the inspiration for the bird, and I think it's worked really well.

Next I plan to make a stuffed owl. Hoot!


Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Spaghetti cat

Ben and I love this:



Monday, 1 September 2008


Check me out. I'm not taking part in an interview, or singing karaoke - I'm Skyping!

(Friends) if you want to Skype me, my username is benandebsblench.


I'll make something soon BTW. I promise.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Must Try Harder

Today I woke up feeling a bit down, so I made a cake to cheer myself up.

I picked a delicious sounding recipe from The Cranks Bible, ignored the instructions about a 28" by 11" cake tin (I only have 20" by 8") and got to it.

I've been looking forward to delving into my newly formed baking cupboard, which looks lovely, but I was also a little aprehensive, because I'm not very good at baking...

It all started so well. Here I am doing some mixing:

Then it went a bit downhill. The cake tin really was too small. I piled all the mixture in, inadvertently using the baking parchment as a wall to increase the height of the tin (like the Pizza Hut salad method!), and after about 10 mins in the oven, the cake started rising so much that it was spewing over the sides, so I had to take it out, and scoop about 3 inches off the top. Mmh. At least I didn't drop it on the floor.

And, although I made the 'icing' according the recipe (heating 5tbsp of caster sugar with the juice of 2.5 lemons), it was really thin, and really lemoney, and made the cake go a bit soggy where I poured it on the top, rather than all white and crunchy as I'd imagined it would.

Anyway, it still turned out lovely and fluffy. Check it out:

Ben and I both had a slice with a cup of tea, and Ben said he loved it, which makes me happy.

Now I just need to do some more practicing. Oh, and I need to buy a bigger cake tin.


Sunday, 24 August 2008

My first post!

It's good to be home. I've been traveling for a glorious, life changing year with my wondeful husband, Ben, but now I'm back, I'm inspired, and I'm motivated!

I'm hoping to use this blog as an outlet for my more creative side, which I'm usually too lazy to do anything with.

I'm going to attend a pottery class, so I can make stuff like this crazy mouse ceramic I saw in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico:

I'm also going to do something with these iron on motifs I picked up in Bangkok:

I'll be using these pretty little iron-on D's I bought fom a Y100 store in Tokyo to jazz something up:

And I can't wait to work out how to cross stitch these beautiful little birds from these patterns I found in Chiang Mai, Thailand:

Love them!