Blog Posts

Essence of Elderflower

My late Aunty Kathleen used to make wine and had won awards for her Elderflower Champagne.  Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get the recipe from her before she passed away but each year I see the elderflowers, I’m reminded of her so this year I decided to have a go at making some elderflower champagne.

Now, it should probably be called pressé as it’s not technically allowed to be called champagne since it’s not made in the Champagne region of France from the appropriate grape varieties, but since it won’t be travelling any further than from my fridge to my glass, I think I’ll run with it!

Whilst scouring Google for recipes, I also came across an elderflower liqueur recipe so added that to my picking list.  We have a Sambucus Nigra bush in our garden so I used the flowers from that for my ‘champagne’.   In the field next to our property is a large, wild elderflower bush, where I picked my flowers for the liqueur.  During my research, a couple of top tips were to use bushes that weren’t next to main roads and to pick flowers from above the leg-cocking height of a labradoodle!

I picked this recipe from www.tinandthyme.uk as it didn’t have tonnes of sugar in it.  Before I went to forage for the flowers, I made the water and sugar solution for the ‘champagne’ so it had time to cool, then I headed off out just before midday on a sunny Thursday to pick my flowers.

Once shaken to remove as many insects as possible, I snipped the flowers off the pink elderflowers and added them into the sugar and water solution, together with a couple of lemons, halved and squeezed and some apple cider vinegar and gave it all a good stir.  After covering with a tea towel, the concoction was left to soak for 24 hours.

Meanwhile, onto the liqueur. 

The recipe for this is from www.talesfromthekitchenshed.com . Again, after shaking the insects out of the flower heads, I snipped off the flowers into a sterilised mason jar and topped with some slivers of lemon zest.  Next, the jar was filled to the brim with vodka.  It was then placed in the cupboard under the stairs for 4 weeks to infuse.

Back to the champagne!  After the 24 hours was up, the liquid was strained to remove the flowers and any bugs and poured into screw cap bottles, loosely done up, and left for a couple of weeks at room temperature to allow the liquid to ferment using the natural yeasts in the flowers.  Mine took a couple of days to liven up but once they were up and running, they needed ‘burping’ a couple of times a day.  After 2 weeks, the lids were tightened and the bottles moved to the fridge for a couple of weeks to mature.  And now it’s ready to drink!

This is not alcohol-free, it’s about 2-4% apparently.

The next job was to finish the liqueur.  The liquid was strained through a cloth and then the sugar syrup added before putting into sterilised bottles and back to the cupboard under the stairs to mature for a couple if months.  I’m looking forward to this, a taste of summer, in the bottom of a glass of prosecco in the autumn!

Pop-Up Celebration Card

There are a few ‘big’ birthdays this year (myself included!) so I’ve been trying to think of celebratory cards.  I often use this die set for New Year’s cards and it makes great pop-up cards.

First, I die cut the 3 scenes and added some glitter paper behind the holes for a bit of bling.

For the background to the city, I blended Distress Oxide inks onto white card…

…before stamping and heat embossing the fireworks from My Favourite Things ‘Fireworks’ stamp set.

Next, I cut the strips to provide the pop-up mechanism and cut out the corresponding sections from the back layer of the city scene.

The other two layers were added and then the whole piece was glued onto the card base.

To neaten the front edge, I added a road.  Here you can see the dimension of the pop-up.

For these pop-up cards, I tend to keep it simple on the front as it’s the inside that’s the main event.

So, here’s the finished card, complete with lampposts!

And a close up.

Bike ‘Broidery

A couple of months ago, my friend completed a Land’s End to John O’Groats virtual cycling fundraising challenge.  By her own admission, she is more of a “couch to couch” rather than ‘couch to 5K’ person, so she did amazingly well to complete this, ahead of schedule too.  During the same month, this kit came with my embroidery magazine so I thought this would make a great memento for Ruth.

The kit came with the embroidery flosses, a pink embroidery hoop and the image pre-printed on some cotton fabric.

The magazine gave instructions on which stitches to use for the different sections.

Once the picture was finished, I thought it would be nice to add a few details to make it personal.  I designed the layout on my computer and printed it out, then, using my lightbox, transferred the design onto the fabric and embroidered it.

To finish, I folded the edges of the fabric in and glued a circle of felt on the back to neaten.  Lastly, a loop of ribbon was added for hanging.