Menstrual Cups

Dear Menstrual Cup Using Community,

Please help! This is the second period on which I’ve tried to use a menstrual cup. I have a Meluna Classic Small and a Fleurcup Small. I have tried both and I can’t get either to inflate properly. The Meluna is bigger and I find it almost impossible to insert at all – I have to use both hands and push really hard, the Fleurcup is easier, but neither inflate. I’ve never felt so inadequate and stupid (apart from in Secondary School P.E lessons…) for not being able to do something that’s supposed to be easy(ish). I’ve tried all the different folds, tried running my finger round once it’s in (almost impossible, there’s just no more room in there) and without fail, inflation only happens when the damn thing is ¾ outside of me, then there’s a sudden squeaky rush of air and it inflates. It’s impossible to push back in from there as some of the rim is already outside.

Please give me some more advice, it’s driving me crazy!

So you have all the info, I’m 26, have had sex, haven’t had babies and don’t have crazy over-developed kegels.

Cute Easy Hand-Made Owls

This is a lovely little craft project which is pretty fast by hand and lightning fast with a machine. I found this lovely pin on pinterest and knew I just had to make them!

Aren’t they lovely?! I didn’t have such cute fabric and didn’t have time to buy any as I was in a hurry to make something for my literally-just-born baby cousin. So I rooted about in my scrap box and made this little beauty.

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There’s a bonus picture there of the recipient of said owl – isn’t she cute! I haven’t met her in person yet and I can’t wait to visit in Easter.

The above owl took me over two hours to make as I wanted to make all the stitching super-secure so almost no amount of pulling or chewing would cause things to become unattached, and so that the owl can be machine washed. I have made two more since then for my Mum and Boyfriend (who were both ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the first one) and they were quicker as the super-robust stitching wasn’t so important.

I’m afraid I really dropped the ball on doing progressive pictures of this… I managed a grand total of ONE in progress pic, lol, sorry! But the blog which was the original inspiration for this has pretty much the perfect instructions, so for a how-to, go here: http://efemera-ink.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/wise.html

 

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The one piece of advice I have is don’t use stretchy fabric for the breast of the bird like I did for the owl on the left as it will expand so that you don’t see as much of the back fabric from the front, which doesn’t look so nice, stick to a good woven cotton or something fluffy like my first own and you should be fine :)

 

Enjoy and have a good weekend!

Banana Lumpia

Today I was catching up on my blogs (I subscribe to so many and do binge blog reading when I get an hour free) and I read this lovely recipe from one of my favourite food blogs, Half Baked Harvest. Tieghan’s photos are just gorgeous and I knew I couldn’t possibly resist making her ‘Sweet Banana Lumpia’ RIGHT NOW.

So I did.

I adapted her recipe a bit as I didn’t have all the ingredients. For my wrappers I used rice pancakes (the kind you use to wrap up crispy aromatic duck)

Banana Lumpia

I also used some runny honey (which I zapped in the microwave to make it even runnier) and some melted butter. I first brushed each pancake with water to make them more pliable then with honey, laid the banana pieces on top and wrapped up into a neat parcel. When I had six wraps I brushed them all over with the melted butter.

Banana Lumpia

Here they are ready for the oven.

I then made the coconut-chocolate dipping sauce. I combined the left over butter and honey (waste not want not) with some shavings from a block of creamed coconut and three squares of dark chocolate and melted in the microwave.

Coconut dipping sauce

This resulted in a silky shiny sauce which has stayed liquid all evening.

The final finished result looked like this:

Banana Lumpia

Very glad to have tried this tasty Filipino treat!

Day 8: LGBTQ

Today and for most of this week I’ve been enjoying the wonderful internet presence of the LGBTQ community. It was always a foregone conclusion that I would be a massive gay rights advocate and gay supporter in general, two or my closest friends are gay and I would describe my own orientation as flexible – I don’t really fit in a box, but I certainly come somewhere under the LGBTQ heading.

So today I’m going to share with you my favourite online LGBTQ moments which are a source of inspiration and joy. Enjoy.

Firstly, for those who want to know what the hell LGBTQ means, here’s a lovely helpful video:

Next, transguy Sam’s wonderful blog/comic strip: http://www.roostertailscomic.com/ you should totally check it out.

Some gay humour (with a meaningful message – which must have worked!)

Bria and Chrissy! Gorgeous singing comedy-video-making couple, you should totally check out their entire channel.

The wonderful Arielle Scarcella’s ‘Lesbians explain’ series (I just love her voice, I don’t know what American accent that it, but it’s great)

And now a few of the sort of videos that make me cry… with happiness :)

So thank you LGBTQ’s, your words of wisdom, compassion and love are always at the forefront of Upworthy, the Huffington Post and TEDx talks – for good reason! To everyone like George Takei, Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen Degeneres, Laverne Cox, Ian Mckellen, Jane Lynch and so many more you make the world a better place.

I’m so pleased I have lived to see gay marriage legislation be passed in the UK and America, but so many gay and transgender adults, teens and children still need compassion and support. Share videos, promote knowledge, celebrate love, condemn hate and support good causes like The Trevor Project.

And now because I got a bit preachy…

One love.

Day 2: China

I’m currently home alone for about 7-10 days, so when I can, I’m going to blog about what I get up to. Today I’m inspired by China. It’s no secret that I love China, I have three Chinese cooking books, I’m learning Mandarin, I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to the orient and for Christmas, I received the DVD of the BBC series ‘Wild China‘ which I watched the first episode from today. Here’s a screen capture I took – this is Zhong Dong, a school  of 200 pupils and village of twenty-odd families all housed in a massive cave.Zhong Dong Cave SchoolI just can’t get over the scale of China, the terraced rice paddies

Over fifty ethnic groups (all portrayed wonderfully in Tom Carter’s China: Portrait of a People)

So today, to celebrate China I cooked Xi Fan or ‘watery rice’ a recipe I have wanted to try for a long time, from one of my favourite Chinese chef’s books:

DSCF9044 I altered Ching’s recipe slightly as I don’t like coriander and didn’t have any beansprouts, so I added instead spring onions and broccoli. The recipe calls for brown rice, mixed grains +pulses (‘healthy grain mix’ or ‘country soup mix’), ginger, garlic, diced carrot and stock cooked together for a long time (I left mine for an hour while I made some phone calls). Ching’s recipe is a fond remembrance of her’s from her childhood where her traditional grandparents would make this for breakfast, and I can see why, though it has a good savoury taste it has the same comfort-factor of porridge – and the same carb-heavy fill-you-up-till-lunchtime quality. It was delicious. And though it isn’t the most beautiful looking dish, I thoroughly receomend you try it out.

Xi fan

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Easy Leaf Art

I realise now is probably not the best time to post this – an opportune time might have been when there were actually some leaves left on the trees… but hey ho, I couldn’t risk letting my family see their Christmas presents before the big day, so I’m posting now. This does work with green leaves too – they just need more drying out, so you could always use evergreen leaves like fir, laurel and holly.

Finished leaf art

To dry out your leaves press them between several sheets of kitchen towel and iron on a hot heat with no steam, then press beneath some heavy books (still with the kitchen towel layer to soak up any sap). You might need to repeat these steps several times over a few days until your leaves are perfectly crisp.

Then decide how many frames you want for your picture, I went for three, but you could do four in a square arrangement, just one, or whatever you like. When you have decided, make your frame template. You might need a set square to keep everything aligned.

template

My squares were each 10cm x 10cm with a 2cm border between and around the outside edge. This was a good fit for my A3 card which didn’t require any complex maths! I just had to trim 1.7cm from the long edge and 4cm from the short edge then cut the card in half lengthways to get two perfectly sized rectangles. I then arranged my leaves over the template:

leaves

I dotted the leaves and template with blutack to keep everything in place then aligned the card on top. Then I flipped the whole thing over (these leaves have already been sprayed once which is why they’re already silver):

Arranged leaves

Then spray. I used gold and silver, but you could use any colour(s) you like.

Spray!

Don’t worry about blotches from the spray, they give everything a nice rustic handmade feel. Then the fun bit: reveal:

Finished leaf art

You can see here, and better in the picture below, that there is a bit of overspray along the outside lines. You may like this effect but I wanted everything really crisp. Perhaps I could have achieved this using spray mount to secure everything, but the leaves are really delicate and I wanted to use them multiple times, I also didn’t want to risk ripping the card.

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Luckily, I found that with my really cheap Christmas spray, I could remove it just using an eraser – this property also meant it could be smudged with a finger, to try and limit this, once I had cleaned up the lines I went over everything with hairspray. To get a really clean line I laid a sheet of paper over the picture right up to the edge of the line I wanted to clean and then used the eraser, this made the line sharp and stopped me damaging the picture itself:

Clean lines

As you can see, it worked really well. And now you’re done.

Good luck if you try this out, would love to see the results if using other colours of card and/or spray. A matte finish might be nice too – this sparkly paint is very seasonal!

Crafty Christmas

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I take Christmas very seriously…

And this year I have gone VERY handmade. My bracelets, which you will have seen in several previous posts, are done and the accompanying necklaces too.

hand made necklaces and bracelets

My chutney pots are labeled

Homemade Apple Chutney

My presents are wrapped and my tags are done in hand-written calligraphy

Christmas Wrapping Christmas wrapping shabby chique wrapping Calligraphy lables

A note on the calligraphy – I don’t have the know-how to design these myself, so I used an online downloadable font and copied that. You have to pay to download, but you can type anything you want into the preview box. I used two fonts – Aleka, and Peonie Pro.

I even made my own Christmas cards. I used leaves I collected and dried in the Autumn. I was planning to make some art with the ones which kept their colours well and spray the others silver. As it happened I couldn’t work out a way to do good leaf art with the plain leaves, the hue of the paper was deadening the colour of the leaves:

leaf art

Any bright ideas to make this design ‘pop’ let me know!

- I did end up using the leaves, but it was the ‘reject’ ones that proved most useful – as templates for these:

Christmas cards

I thought these were so lovely I made some similar wall-art as presents, I’ll cover this in the next post. It was very easy and effective.

All I can say is that when spraying:

  • cover a much larger surface than you think you need with newspaper
  • don’t breathe the fumes!
  • you might need to set the spray paint with hairspray – mine set very powdery

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed my hand made crafty Christmas. Merry Christmas to anyone reading.

Liz x

Apple Jelly

Apple jellies are super easy to make. I looked it up online and there is pretty much just one recipe repeated again and again. Which essentially boils down to:

Take some apples – eaters, cookers, crab apples, whichever you like – chop them roughly, including peel and cores but discarding bad parts.

Combine the apples with anything flavourful you like, I used chilli and ginger, other recipes suggested Rowan berries, rosehips and cranberries.

Cover the whole lot with water and boil until pulpy

Strain the pulpy mix through a fine muslin overnight

Straining apple juice through muslin

straining

Combine the strained juice at a 1:1 volume ratio with white sugar

Apple jelly in the making

Boil, them simmer, skimming foam as necessary, at this stage you will see the mixture change from cloudy to clear

skimming the scum! Apple jelly

Chill a spoon in the freezer, when the jelly is ready a small portion of it will set on the spoon. If it doesn’t set, boil for longer, I had to reduce my mixture by almost half in volume before it was the right consistency. At this point I stirred in some finely chopped chilli so that the pieces would float in the jelly.

ready to pour apple jelly

Pour into sterilised jars (click to find out how – I used the oven method), screw on lids and leave to set. As the jelly cools you’ll hear popping noises as the lids depress.

Apple, ginger, chilli jelly Apple jelly

And you’re done :)

 

On another note, I found an adorable covering for my chutney jar lids – some adorable Christmas tartan tape they’re selling in Wilkinsons. How cute is that?!?

Tartan lids and tape

Now I just need some adorable lables and I’m done :)

Apple Chutney

Yet again, I am pinching the pennies for Christmas – but really wanting to make something thoughtful, last year it was homemade sweets (honeycomb, peppermint cremes and fudge) this year it’s bracelets, necklaces, autumn leaf art, Apple Chutney and Apple Jelly.

This was my first foray into chutney making, I looked at lots of recipes online and read the criticisms too sweet/ to vinegary and worked out the magic formula (I hope). My formula hinges on whether your apples are cookers or eaters thus:

Sugar to fruit/veg mix ratio:

1:3 for cooking apples

1:6 for eating apples.

Because of their tarter taste, cooking apples can make up a larger percentage of the fruit/veg mix (up to 75%)

Here is my recipe, penned (or rather, pencilled) by my own fair hand:Apple chutney recipe

So, step one, for maximum frugalness, beg or scrump some apples, mine are from the in-laws garden (n.b. not actually married, but in-laws is so much easier than ‘my boyfriend’s parents’) here are said apples, lovely windfalls from a couple of different trees:apples

The smaller green ones tasted like cooking apples, and the larger red and green ones like eaters, so I ended up with a mixture.

Cut up apples and  onions, and combine with sugar and vinegar on the hob. sugar and vinegar chutney mixCook until pulpy – I was making spag bol too at the time, so my timing is a little hazy, but I think I let it bubble away for about half an hour while I cut up the dates and made dinner.

bubbling away starting to reduce down chopped dates

You then choose your spices and add them, the dates and the sultanas to the pan.

Chutney spices spices, sultanas and dates nearly finished chutney

I cooked it down until it was pretty thick, then blended it a little with a hand blender – my partner doesn’t like chutney too lumpy so I thought a slightly less chunky mix would go down better, I guess you could blend it completely smooth, but I like a bit of texture.

I then filled my jars with a genius – if I say so myself – funnel made from the top of a milk carton:

milk carton funnel jar of chutney finished jars

Now my jars just need painted lids and labels – the white lids here have been painted with nail varnish to hide the black text, but I think they’re still too plain and contrasting, I might get some fabric to tie around the top, or perhaps just some Christmas wrapping paper.

I’m going to open a jar up in a few days and test it out, I forgot to add a tsp of salt to my mix and I hope it’s not a fatal flaw, but if I have to scoop out all the chutney, heat it back up and re-jar it I will. Besides, two of that jars might have that happen anyway as they’re a bit big, just need to see where I can buy some smaller jars which won’t cost a fortune. All the jars I have here are saved from tomato sauces/ honey/ preserves etc.

Happy Chutney making!