social spark Aisling Beatha: May 2011


Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy your stay, however short, and find something that interests and blesses you.

The tabs just below will take you to posts of particular topics. So if you are looking for my posts on food, fitness or creativity, you will find them there. You will also find my posts on thankfulness or other more contemplative posts, as well as a set of posts with traditional blessings from a number of different cultures.

You can find posts with labels not included in that list via the labels list over in the sidebar.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Prayer Map of my town

This is what I spent most of Saturday morning putting together in my church building.

It took 3 hours, and that was with my hubby helping.  I dread to think how long it would have taken on my own.

We have had the map of our town up on the wall there for quite a while, just sitting there on it's own.  A few weeks ago I had the idea to mark all the schools in town, on the map.  That has now expanded to a rolling program of displays that will have different themes.  Well, you can read about that here:

Over on the right are some prayer pointers

and a list of the schools covered by our local education authority but not included on the map.  The schools covered on this map are the 5 - 11 year old schools, except the special schools for disabled children and children with special educational needs.  Because there were so many schools to include, I decided to add the special schools into the next display which will have the 11-16 and 16-18 provision marked as well as the local university campus.

When we have finished with education I was thinking about marking all the doctors surgeries and the hospital one time, and the police stations another, with fire and ambulance stations another.  After that I have no idea what we will do, any suggestions?

I'll leave you with one final picture.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spa Wrap

To match the towel wrap for my hair that I made the other day I also made a Spa Wrap. I used a pattern from Sew4home but I did not make the ribbon straps.

As you can see, the wrap is trimmed with a patterned fabric, has a pocket and a flower, which is removable.

The strips fo fabric for the trimming need to be 8 inches wide.  I have a large quilting ruler but it is only 6 inches wide, so I marked the 6 inches point at both side of the neatly folded fabric,

Then moved the ruler across so that the pen marks were under the 4 inch point, and cut along the edge, making 8 inch strips.

It's a great pattern but I did have a problem with the way they tell you to do the elastic.  I measured, I pinned, I checked it, I checked it again, it all fitted fine, but somehow when it came to sewing it on, something went wrong and it was no longer as tight as it had been when pinned.  So I opened up the ends of the channel that folding over the elastic has created, and threaded another piece of elastic through which I secured about 1/4 of the way in from one end.  Then I pulled the fabric up across the elastic until it had gathered as much as I needed it to, and secured the elastic 1/4 of the way in from the other end.  Then finished it off as suggested in the instructions. 

If I were to make one of these again I would do the elastic that way from the start.  Apart from anything else. making the channel on purpose would mean just two layers of towelling at the top, not 3, and believe me, sewing through the ribbing on 3 layers of towelling isn't easy.

Finally, a close up of the flower.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Apple Cake

Today I needed to make an apple cake for a meal I'm helping with this evening.  It's an Alpha meal for 30 people. I decided to use a recipe I found on for Apple Swirl Cake

You will need

    • 2 cups apples (2 cups ended up being 3 1/2 of those apples, so I used the whole of that last one, making 4 apples)
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 cup cooking oil (I only had a small amount of basic vegetable oil and had to top up with cold pressed rapseed oil, which has a bright orange colour)
    • 4 eggs
    • 1/4 cup orange juice
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 3 cups flour, Sifted
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix the 3 tbsp sugar with the cinnamon

Chop the apples

and toss in the cinnamon mix

Beat the oil and sugar together, then add the orange juice, eggs and vanilla.

Then sieve in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix.

Beat until smooth then layer in your cake tin, 1/3 mix, then half the apples, then another 1/3 mix, the other half of the apples and finally the last portion of mix.

Look at all the luscious juice the apples have made while sitting in that cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 325f (around 165c) for a whole hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

While the cake is baking deal with this:

This note particularly for any teenage budding chefs out there, HINT HINT!

Cool in pan for 15 minutes.

This is a sprig form pan, so then I released the sides, inverted a cooling rack over the top and flipped in order to pull the centre piece of the cake tin out.

Removing the centre was a little more difficult than I had hoped, you may be able to see a crack in the cake.  I will have to be careful when moving it.  Next time I will grease the bottom of the tin better.  Finally I got it removed.  I used another inverted cooking rack over the top and flipped it again to finish cooling.

This should be served just sprinkled with icing sugar.  I won't do that until we get to the event this evening.  Maybe I will remember to take a photograph.

Mini Cinnamon Whirls

I am sure most of you know how to make puff pastry cinnamon whirls.  But have you ever thought of making mini ones?

I needed to make some for a dinner that I am helping to cater for tonight.  It's an Alpha meal and there will be 30 people.  This will just be a little snacklet for when everything is finished, I am also making an apple cake.

Sooooo, you will need:

a mini muffin pan, such as the pampered chef one.
a pack of ready rolled puff pastry

I don't measure the cinnamon and sugar when I make these.  In fact, you can see how much cinnamon is left in the jar.

I just topped that up with the sugar and shook and rolled the jar to mix.

Open and unroll the sheet of puff pastry.  And here's the really NOT tricky part that will make these into mini whirls.  You simply cut the sheet in half along the length.

Sprinkle the whole thing with your cinnamon sugar mix, like so.

The far side is the cinnamon sugar made with caster sugar as shown in the ingredients photo, and the near side is some cinnamon sugar made with granulated or maybe even demerara sugar that I found I already had in the cupboard.  some people also add melted butter before they sprinkle the sugar on, but honestly this is puff pastry, it doesn't need extra butter.

Roll each piece, from the long edge to make a long narrow roll.

then slice that into pieces.  I think mine are just a bit smaller than a cm each.  But it worked out at 24 pieces from each roll.

Place each piece into a section of the mini muffin pan and bake in an oven at 200 c or whatever temperature your packet of puff pastry says. 

20 minutes later you will have a tray of gorgeous little cinnamon whirls, like so . . .

You could make mini versions of many other puff pastry whirl recipes, both sweet and savoury.  ENJOY!

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Towel Wrap

I've been meaning to make one of these for SO long now and finally decided to just knuckle down and get it done.  A towel wrap for my hair.

I have to admit that I have a large head, very large, in fact even men's extra large hats don't fit me!  SO in order to get a towel wrap that would fit me well and encompass all of my hugely long hair I knew I needed to make my own.  I decided to use the pattern and instructions at Skip to My Lou and just make the wrap bigger than her pattern.

I think I might have made it too much too big, looking at how much fabric I'm having to tuck into the elastic when I use it.  If I make another of these for myself I will probably go with something half way between her pattern and the size I made this time.

The pattern over at Skip to my Lou wants the height when cutting out to be 12 inches.  From the following photos you can see I used almost 14 inches and used the full width of the towel available between any ribbing.

Sewed it together, inserting an elastic loop at the curved end and it was complete.

I also made a spa wrap from a much larger towel, and will share that project later in the week.

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Treadmill Desk

I spend a lot of time at my computer.  An awful lot of time.  Probably far more than I should.

I also need to get healthy, and part of that is exercise.  A few years ago we bought a treadmill, but never quite used it very much.  I realised this was because it took time out of my day and I wondered if there was a way to combine the exercise with something I already do, so that it wasn't taking any extra time out of my day.  Then I discovered the idea of treadmill desks, both ones that you can buy and ones that you can make yourself.

From then on I was looking for a way to make this work for us.  Finally we did it!

This will only work on treadmills that have their arms a certain way.  Ones with really short arms, or arms that slope down more than this, will not work.  This is what we started with.

Then you will need a plank of wood or chipboard or whatever.  We used a piece that was in the shelving section in the DIY store.

You will also need tool storage clips.  These are designed for going on the wall in a shed or garage so that garden tools can be stored on the wall.

We put two on each side of the plank.  I marked the positions by putting the clips onto the arms of the treadmill, laying the plank over the top and then marking the position from underneath.  Just screw the clips on and you are ready to go.  Then turn the plank over so that the clips are underneath, hanging down place it over the arms and press down, the clips open up and grab onto the arms of the treadmill and the shelf is now quite secure, yet easily removable when you need to.  If you look back at that first picture you may be able to see the marks the clips have left on the foam on the arms of the treadmill.

Then all you need to do is set up your laptop and you are ready to walk and do your computer work at the same time.

I can walk at up to 5 km per hour and still check emails, facebook etc, although if I need to type a reply I will usually slow it down to around 4 and if it's a long email or complicated, I'll slow it down some more.

Most mornings I am on there for anything from 30 minutes to a whole hour and even do my daily bible reading on there some days too.
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