Thursday, 8 December 2016

Christmas h.Art


It's always my favourite event of the year- thank you so much to all of our friends both old and new who came to join us over the weekend. Here is just a very small snapshot of a wonderful weekend.

You make it possible for us to be able to take part in fantastic events like h.Art.

We wish you a very Happy Christmas! 

Lots of love 

Kate and Lit xxx























Crafts for Christmas at the NEC Birmingham

Hopelessly late, but I had to write about how we got on at the NEC last month.

The show is actually four shows in one- Crafts for Christmas, Cake International, Hobbycrafts and Art Materials Live so there were hundreds and hundreds of different stands to see and tens of thousands of people visiting.





It was incredibly hard work and Sam was amazing for taking the time off work to come and support me (you really can't do a show like that by yourself). There weren't as many independent designer makers as in previous years but we were lucky to be positioned in with a cluster of other makers. We had a fantastic time and the best part of the event was that we made some lovely new friends.

Andy and Hazel of 'Handmade by Hazel' were our neighbours. They were great fun to be around during the long days and make stunning wooden and slate items for your home such as cheeseboards and wine racks.



Lovely Val of 'Foxy Brushworks' makes gorgeous hand painted mirrors. We did an artist swapsie and I came away with one of her super cute cat mirrors! These would make perfect wedding  or special occasion presents as they can be totally customisable to you.



Super smiley Irek of 'Forever Amber' makes beautiful amber jewellery that I can't tell you too much about as I don't want to spoil any Christmas presents!



We also met 'Henleys Traditional Sweet Shops' who talked me into trying their sour challenge which I failed at dismally!

video

My very lovely and talented friend, Philippa Day also came to see us!

Wonderful to see Alice and Susan, as always!

Best visitor outfits from these lovely ladies!

They returned as reindeer the following day!

Bringing festive cheer in our Christmas jumpers!







Wednesday, 7 December 2016

CHOCOLATE!


It's been an incredibly busy few months with very little free time, but Sam and I decided to treat ourselves to a rare day off- we went on Jacqueline Keenan of La Fleur de Chocolat's chocolate making course!

Chocolate Goddess

We know Jacqui from a few of our regular markets and I don't think I've ever managed to resist not going home with (most likely an empty) box or bag of scrumptious treats made by her.

To say I was in my element during the day would be a huge understatement. I LOVE chocolate.



Jacqui welcomed us all with proper hot chocolate (the best I've ever had) and delicious nibbles. She taught us all about how chocolate is made and then had us taste a variety of different chocolates. This was fascinating and it's amazing how many different flavours you can taste in the real deal when you have an expert guiding you. I've never been wine tasting but I imagine it's a similar experience.



What shocked us the most was how unpleasant the supermarket brand chocolate tasted to us all after trying so many fine chocolates. I didn't think I liked dark chocolate before but Jacqui was absolutely right that we just hadn't tasted the right sort!

During the rest of the afternoon, we made our own fruit ganache to fill a tray of decorated chocolates, as well as three chocolate lollipops. My favourite part was the decorating and I'd love to have another go at it! I tried creating all sorts of detailed designs but I think the simpler, more abstract ones actually looked the most effective.

Painting chocolate designs

Sam's designs

My filling of choice was raspberry and framboise, while Sam opted for mango and passionfruit so between us we had a good selection.

You have to bash the tray with a rolling pin to line each chocolate mould




I knew chocolate making involved a great deal of artistic skill but hadn't realised what a scientific process it is too, and how exact temperatures need to be reached and cooled to in order to temper your chocolate properly and give it a wonderful shine.  




I absolutely loved how messy it was as well- such fun!



We had a wonderful day with Jacqui- she couldn't have been more welcoming and it was a real pleasure to learn more about the greatest thing on earth from a passionate expert. We were also allowed to taste everything throughout the day (which of course we did) so I was on a sugar high for the majority of the afternoon. I can't recommend the experience highly enough, so if you're looking for the perfect gift for the chocoholic in your life, head on over to her website!

Lollipop toppings


Sam's chocolates

My Christmas themed chocolates

Lollipops

Our lollipops all set to go!