Welcome to Mrs Monkei's blog! I hope you will join me in my baking and crafting adventures. Please say hi to me while you're here, visit my shop at madeit, or find Mrs Monkei Jewellery on facebook.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Peruvian Bead Fun

Moonstone stars, Navy glass beads and Peruvian moons

Hello folks! How are you all?
Life plods on over here in our tree, lots of school work happening and a few custom orders at the same time - my favourite!

One thing that seems to be being received well is my new items using Peruvian beads.
My mother in law is Peruvian, and she sent me some beads to play with. The results have been very sweet. I especially love the little animals, as well as the white ceramic beads with little suns, moons, flowers and symbols painted on them. The beads are all hand painted and they make for quite unique pieces!

Isn't this Alpaca lovely!

I have just sent another 7 of these keyrings over to View Point, as I was delighted to hear that the two I took in last week have sold quickly!
No such luck on Madeit, where I haven't had a sale in a month. It's been positive really, as it's making me spread my wings a little into the shop/market side of handmade.

As Mr Monkei would say, swings and roundabouts...

I have always thought that with jewellery, people are happiest to buy when they can pick up a piece, and "eyeball" it so to speak. They get a feel for it's quality, durability and the workmanship far better than when relying on photos.

What about you, readers? Are you happy to buy from photos alone or are you a try on first type of customer? I'd be interested to read your thoughts!

I leave you with some sunshine, like the sunshine we enjoyed today!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Baking - Black Forest Cupcakes

As much as this is a blog about jewellery stuffs and everything Mrs Monkei, I intend on continuing the occasional off topic foray into my other love - baking.
In fact, it was my adoration of baked goods that made me stumble over the world of blogging in the first place. I can safely say that the ratio of blogs I follow is currently 80% baking blogs and 20% crafts. This is slowly evolving as I get more involved in the online aspect of my beading, but I love being inspired to go off and bake treats for my friends and family after reading a blog post! So here goes.

It was my friend T's birthday at the end of Sept and we were finally seeing him Saturday night, so he requested black forest cupcakes. I've not made anything remotely black forest-y since home economics in high school, so...10 years ago. That's a scary thought. So I went wandering on the old faithful google and managed to settle on a recipe that looked nice and doable. Check it out below:

Black Forest Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from http://www.fun-tea-party-ideas.com
My notes are in italics throughout the recipe.

For the cupcakes:1 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
2/3 cup of cocoa powder (I love the Woolworths home brand cocoa, it's beautiful)
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of instant coffee - optional (I omitted, we don't like coffee)
1/2 cup of butter - softened
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 large eggs - at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk

For the cherry mixture:
450gms morello cherries in juice
1 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of cornflour
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of rum extract - optional - (I used Morgan's Spiced Rum cos we already had it)

For the cream topping:
 2 cups of heavy cream
1/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of gelatin
2 tablespoons of water

Cream the butter and the sugar using a hand mixer or a stand mixer,
Add the eggs one at a time, ensuring that the first egg is well beaten in before adding the second. The mixture should be light and fluffy.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and coffee - if using.
Add this mixture to the butter mixture as well as the vanilla and buttermilk.
I always find it best to alternate between adding small amounts of dry, wet, dry etc.
Be sure not to overmix.

Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake them at 180 degrees celsius for 20 minutes.

Remove cupcakes from oven and cool completely.

While cuppies are in the oven, make the filling;

To make the filling, place the cherries in a saucepan over medium to high heat.
Bring them to a boil. As soon as it boils, add the sugar and mix until melted.
Add the cornstarch, the lemon juice and the rum.

Mix with a whisk until the cherry mixture thickens. Take off the stove and allow to cool before using. (I had so much extra filling that we are still enjoying it on ice cream for dessert)The recipe originally states to use the "cone" method of filling these cuppies, ie: use a knife to remove a section of the cake, put filling in the hole and replace the top of the bit taken out, however I overestimated the rising capabilities of these cakes and obviously didn't fill the liners full enough. To save myself, I piped a ring of the cream on the top and dolloped a cherry and some sauce in the middle. It still looked cute!

To make the topping, start to whip the cream with a hand/stand mixer. Mix the gelatin and the water and add this mixture to the heavy cream.
When the whipped cream starts forming add the sugar very slowly and then the vanilla extract.

The gelatin is used to stabilize your whipped cream. (I don't find that gelatin is necessary if the cream is whipped to stiff peaks and you're serving the cakes straight away, but it is probably more of a necessity in warmer weather)
Put some whipped cream in a piping bag and decorate the cupcakes. (I added lindt hot chocolate flakes as a sprinkle over the top)

These little cakes seemed to go down very well on Saturday night!

If you try the recipe, please leave a comment to let me know how it went.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Features and Linkies

I'm excited today. Isn't excitement a fun emotion? It's all bouncy and fluffy and YAY-y. Yup, that's a word.
Before you start thinking that I'm crazy (and you'd be right) I'll explain why -
I've been featured in another crafty blog!! Yup, one other than this one. Really!

Hey, this is a big deal for me so just humour me on it!!

Jill at Creating My Way To Success has graciously let me answer some questions, pop some pictures up and generally ramble on about Mrs Monkei Jewellery. At the same time, there's a Creative Hop happening (see the linky at the bottom of this page) for crafters worldwide to meet and greet. I see myself spending quite a bit of time wandering around on craft blogs today..

Head down to the button down the bottom and check me out over at Jill's page, as well as the hop. Thanks Jill for letting me invade your blog for the day. I've thoroughly enjoyed it!

If you've found your way here through the linky gathering, please pop me a comment and say hi either here or over at my facebook page. I love "meeting" other handmade lovers and creators alike, and am always up for a chat!

Creating my way to Sucess

Monday, 10 October 2011

A Visit to View Point

Yesterday Mr Monkei and I went to Bendigo to drop in to View Point Handmade Gallery and see my little nook there! I was very excited as I hadn't yet seen the retail space all renovated, painted and open for business. It was nice to see Jess again, she's always lovely and patiently answers all of my noob stockist questions!

Of course, we walked out of there having spent money. There are so many talented crafters being stocked there, I justify my purchases as support for my fellow stockists :D

See my new little tags? I made them on Saturday, I think they are way better than the plain white tags I was using - what do you think?

I took along some new pieces to add to my stock at View Point, including 2 bookmarks and a bracelet made with my new Peruvian beads. My mother in law had the idea that I have a look at some a few weeks ago, and I have fallen in love with them. I now have the sweetest handpainted beads, with all sorts of designs in various shapes and sizes, as well as some beautiful ceramic animals such as Alpacas, Turtles and Koalas. As you know, I'm a sucker for animal beads and findings!

Check out the tiny black Alpaca painted on the bright bead at the bottom!

We'll see how people take to the new direction, it's definitely a different flavour to my normal style but I think it's sweet.

I can't explain how much I'm enjoying having my work in a shop. It's the most thrilling experience to sell my creations in this manner. I hope that Jess will be happy to keep me on there for some time to come and I can continue to learn along the way. It's all fun, after all!