Saturday, 27 February 2010

and the winner is....

lovely birthday celebrations were held in Gloucestershire last weekend. The Pope family came over for a long sunday lunch, armed with a bottle of celebratory prosecco, wine and a yummy cake.
We feel we have come along way in a year, and met some really fantastic people on the way. so thank you everybody xx

anyway the winner of our birthday box giveaway is tracy of cupcakes at home anway it turns out that tracy is a fellow not on the high street seller and has a direct website here so tracy a box of goodies will be winging its way to bonnie scotland!!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

make do and mend

Today I took the girls to The Museum in the Park to see an exhibition by Studio Seven. Sarah and I have raved about these guys before, and I have seen this exhibition, Make Do and Mend, before, but it wasn't any less inspiring. It's a wonderful interactive exhibition full of sewing paraphernalia. While war time music plays in the background you are encouraged to pull various pulleys - made of bobbins, labels, embroidery hoops etc - and see what happens: a parachute dress rises up to the ceiling, a suitcase theatre curtain lifts to reveal miniature dressmakers dummies 'a la mode'.

The girls (and I) were taken by this old tin placed on the wall with a huge label saying 'LIFT ME' attached (we're back to the Alice in Wonderland thing). Under the lid is a tiny sewing studio with dolls house sized sewing machine and dressmakers dummy, an electric light and a little stool made of an old reel of thread, reminiscent of the Borrowers.

Thanks Emma for reminding me that it was on.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

birthday cupcake competition winners

Today hardaker and pope marked it's first birthday, we feel we've come a long way in a year and to celebrate we've had a fantastic day. As I write hubby and I are still bursting at the seams from eating far too much of Sarah's delicious Roast Beef and Yorkshire Puds (we only got through 35 between the two families), then there was the sticky toffee pudding, followed by our very own birthday cupcake. In fact it's not surprising that hubby has dozed off; a few glasses of wine whilst watching golf in front of the fire with Mr H wont have helped! However we did manage to pull them away from the screen long enough for them to cast their votes in the cup cake competition.

Thank you to all of you who entered, we had great fun judging this afternoon, every member of both families got to vote. You can see all the entries here. The overall winner and recipient of a Hardaker and Pope parcel of goodies was Rebekah from Vintage Fairy Tales. This particular cake was Sarah's boy's overall favourite, he liked the reindeer!

Runners up were Cupcake Belle, (she appealed to the daughters!)

and Lesley at Poppy Greens with these beautiful flower cupcakes.

Congratulations winners.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

inspired by fairy tales

i feel that a post about fairytales, dolls and creatures was almost fated. every conversation recently has had some reference , be it my friend caroline searching for vintage scraps for dollmaking.
or an entry to our birthday cake competeition from the fabulous rebecka of vintage fairy tales
which sparked a lovely email conversation about gardens and flowers. everything seems to be feeling fairytale at the moment! do go and check out rebecka's stunning creations and amazing photos on her blog.

Anyway all this reminded me of a great exhibition Jo and I went to see at the museum in the park in stoud a few years ago, called folk art and fairy tales. It was filled to the rafters with amazing characters and creatures, such as this lovely character by samantha bryan who blogs here all of her creations had little personalities, almost as if they had a voice.

Jess Brown is a textile artist who has been featured in selvedge magazine, she creates dolls with character and beauty but without tweeness, they are simple and pared down.

The most beautifully elegant of dolls are those created by pipsqueak chapeau, the fabrics used have such a simple grace.

su blackwell is an artist who Jo and I have admired for a very long time, she inspired Jo's amazing christmas cake. Again I think her work has this almost secret beauty, almost as if you are sneaking up and seeing something that has escaped from the pages of the book.

Apolline has that same quality, you must visit their website, don't whatever you do skip the intro, and do make sure you have the sound on, on your computer to enjoy a secret peek into a magical world, it is one of Miss B's very favourites!

More of su blackwells magical creations

when Jo and I went to see folk art and fairytales we were both (along with all of the children) completely mesmerised by this piece by Lucy Casson. This is just a detail, but there are lots of little pictures of the piece here, click on the thumbnails. Again the artist had managed to create a little vignette of characters all working, the piece is called 'the upholsterers studio' and it is a chair being worked on by a cast of little creatures, you can almost hear their conversations tinkling as you watch.

one can't write a piece about fairytale creatures without a mention of the amazing julie arkell, I am hoping Jo will one day post the pictures of the family she made when she went on one of Julie's courses in stroud. Julie also does a course at les souers anglaise in Briancon each summer, and I am very envious of Sam and Rebecka who went last year.

finally my other favourite from the folkart and fairytales show (these photos were found on flickr) was the work of textile artist Jayne Lennard, who seems to have no web presense, so all I can tell you is that this piece was called 'thumbellinas trousseau' and it was an exquisite collection of little garments in pale linens, which looked as though they had been made by fairies!
Anyway I hope you enjoy a little sprinle of fairy dust on this grey february evening.......

Monday, 15 February 2010


Excuse the pun.

They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and my man certainly enjoys his food, not least anything sweet. Unfortunately for him Ive a more savoury tooth and as I'm in charge of the food shopping in our house he often gets left out. So when I was given this recipe for amaretti the other day I thought it would make a nice valentines gift for him to take to work. I knew he would really enjoy them with a strong cup of coffee, whilst stood at his potting table contemplating his navel.

I ditched the traditional reds and pinks associated with love and decided to go for more masculine colours, packaging the goodies up in baking paper and an ancient cake box I've had lurking in my cupboard, waiting for an important occasion. Of course no gift is complete without a label. I simply stamped the word LOVE on it and voila!

180g ground almonds
120g caster sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp natural almond extract
pinch of salt
2 egg whites
1tbsp honey
100g flaked almonds
Icing sugar

Turn oven on at 160

Mix almonds, sugar, lemon zest, almond essence and salt and rub together with finger tips

Whip egg whites and honey until firm peaks form. Fold egg mixture into the almond/sugar mix to make a paste.

Make small balls of the paste (approx 15-20) then roll in the flaked almonds and then the icing sugar.

Place on line baking paper and bake for 14 - 18 mins - they should remain very pale and chewy in the centre.

Leave to cool before devouring!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

cupcake inspiration

I know I shouldn't enter our own competition, but I love baking so I am going to enter anyway, I promise I won't win!! Anyway I was looking for a bit of cake decorating inspiration, something that was achievable for a 6yr old a 3 yr old and a piping set.
As I often do I turned to Martha for inspiration, and oh my god there is a ton of it on there! I couldn't stop downloading things!!
so here are a few for inspiration, I expect you all to get your mixing bowls out this weekend and get baking, take a photo and enter the competition, we will be posting some of your entries every day next week. I am now off to work out the mysteries of a think called swiss buttercream!!!

PS look at the entries on flickr. Full details on how to enter the competition are here.

Friday, 12 February 2010

valentine biscuits

I am rather partial to picking up the waitrose seasons magazine (though it is 50p now - but I don't mind because it is still lovely) this season had some great recipes including some old fashioned teatime treats like fig rolls and jammy dodgers.
I was tryong to find something that didn't involve telly for 3 year old, so I thought we would make some valentine biscuits, based on the waitrose recipe. here are the results.

they were so nice we haven't got any left to give as valentines day pressies! it was a bit ambitious with a 3 year old and out of about 20 there were only these that were remotely photographable!

140g plain flour

100g butter

50g icing sugar

1 egg yolk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

mix the butter, suagar, and flour in a processor or kitchen aid, add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix again, you need a nice smooth dough, - I took it out and gave it a little knead on the work surface. pat it into a disc and chill for an hour in the fridge.

roll out thinly on a floured worksurface and cut out your shapes, you need 2 the same size for each biscuit and one smaller one to cut out the holes. cut a hole out of half the biscuits using your chosen shape, I used a small heart.

transfer the biscuits onto a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 8mins at 150, might take longer or less depending on your oven, keep checking as they burn quickly, they need to be golden brown.

allow to cool and then spread the sold bisciut with jam and top with the holey one. Waitrose suggest using a dob of buttercream under the jam which i think would also be lovely.

here is a link to the waitrose seasons site for you. I have sent you to the index as there are lots of tempting recipes! I halved their recipe.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

birthday gift

so many of you posted such lovely comments about the box I did for Jo for christmas, that to celebrate our upcoming first birthday, i would put one together for one lucky reader to win. (mr H would not think this a lucky win - he calls them 'box of tat'!!) obviously it won't have a christmas theme like Jo's did but it will have an essense of Hardaker and Pope about it!! so all you have to do to win is leave a comment - and if you comment annonymously you will have to give us a clue so we know which annon you are!!! and then we will have a grand draw on sun 21st feb. so happy commenting and I am off to rummage by boxes!!

Saturday, 6 February 2010

valentine 2

Martha Stewart always sends out lovely ideas round ups and their valentines things to make is no exception.

lots of ideas here for creative valentines. Mr H have been together (mostly) for 18 years this valentines day, so i shall take inspiration from martha and make him something lovely. more inspiration from martha later this week.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

lovely things for lovely people

the last month or two have been fraught with printing nightmares for me, and there have been numerous occassions where i have thought 'this is not worth it'.
It's only really been the amazing support from family and friends that has spurred me on enough to keep going in the face of everything going wrong.
anyway I have had to let alot of people down with orders due to our printers shutting up shop, one lady has been living in a caravan while her house is being built, and as with all new builds things have gone wrong and taken longer so she and her family have spent this ghastly winter in a caravan.
Anyway, i think anyone who runs their own creative business will understand me when I say that its personal, customers matter, so I kept thinking about Lara in her caravan, she had ordered chinoiserie fabric for her dream bedroom curtains, (and she will have those curtains come hell or high water!) so I made her a cushion to keep her going while her fabric is being made, hopefully a little bit of lovely will keep her going!!
For anyone who wants to know how i did the emboidery, I have an ancient bernina sewing machine - it must be 40 yrs old, and i use a free stitch foot with the teeth dropped and just basically draw with the needle, it takes practice and it also takes a long time to get a solid shape, but i don't think you can replicate this look with a computerised machine - and I have tried!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

creature comforts

One of the down sides of losing my hard drive was that I lost all of my links and an enormous stash of things I had saved for ages because I liked them. Anyway I was delighted to come across this lovely project in Creature Comforts archive, as it was one of my 'lost' loves! I thought this was a fab contemporary valentine idea, the instructions are here.
Creature comforts was one of the very first blogs i read and it is still one I go back to time and again because of the lovely mix of things Ez features, its like reading a really really good magazine, there are also lots of lovely downloads.
more valentines ideas coming soon!!

Monday, 1 February 2010

snow drops

For many January is a grey and depressing month but this year it hasn't been too much of a drag. The snow caused such confusion that the month has flown by in a flurry of unexpected days off school and weather report scrutiny.

Now February is here and we're making headway towards spring. To prove the point, the snowdrops are now poking their delicate heads out of the soil, and I'm sure the primroses will follow suit fairly soon. I love the way the seasons are marked by what's growing in the garden but I've been awaiting the snowdrops with added anticipation this year. The children found me this little bottle on the beach in Cornwall last summer and I've had a vision of it filled with snowdrops ever since.

And then I've always had a bit of a thing about teeny tiny bottles with labels on. It's an Alice in Wonderland thing.