Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Lemon Drizzle Cake - Vegan Recipe

I suppose it's slightly more tropical lemon drizzle cake than its non-vegan cousin, as I've used banana as an egg substitute, it's still very tasty though! 

Pre-heat your oven to 180*C


- 175g ripe banana 
- 1tsp baking powder
- 100g muscavado sugar
- 75g caster sugar
- 100g margarine
- 2tbsp lemon juice (fresh or bottled!)
- 200g Self Raising flour


- 3tbsp lemon juice 
- 3tbsp caster sugar 


- 5 heaped tsp icing sugar
- 2tsp water


Mash up your banana with the baking powder

Add both the sugars plus the margarine and mash them in as well!

Add the lemon juice and mix up well. Might be time for a blitz with an electric whisk if you a) have one and b) can be bothered! I'm a lazy baker unfortunately...

Add flour until the mixture is a good consistency. About 200g is right but it will depend on the ripeness of your banana! It wants to be fairly thick and glossy, but not too runny. 

Pour into a 2lb baking tin (I used a liner too....less washing up. If you don't, grease the tin with plenty of extra margarine!!)

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then turn down to 150*C and and cook for another ten until the top is springy and a skewer comes out clean. 

While it's still warm, poke all over the top with a skewer or cocktail stick. Mix up your drizzle until the sugar is fairly well dissolved. Pour it all over the warm cake! 

While you're waiting for the cake to cool, (A good couple of hours) mix up your icing. When it's cold, drizzle your icing over artisticly, write a message or draw a silly picture! 

Then enjoy! 

Jo :-) 

Running From Zombies - Alteration Tutorial

I've been getting back into running slowly and at the same time have been loving the newest series of "the Walking Dead". I haven't seen the earlier ones, but hopefully a DVD set will rectify that at some point. 

So when I saw this tshirt at my local MOD surplus store (Gillings, it's The Best) I knew I had to have it!

Unfortunately it was a men's size XL. Gratifyingly big on me! Not so nice for running in. 

I took a little (shrunk, thank you tumble dryer) dress I have that I like the fit of and laid it centrally on top of the shirt. 

Cut around one side. Along the arm too so it was longer than before. Make sure you leave a gap around the edge big enough for your hem. I left about a cm as I didn't want it to be too bulky. 

Fold it over with the fold right down the centre so that it's nicely symmetrical and cut the other side to match the first. Because it's T-Shirt material it doesn't fray so you don't need to worry about the edges. 

Then all that's left to do is to turn the shirt inside out and stitch along the cut edges making sure to line up the cuff and hem neatly. You could pin first, but I just winged it! 

Love my vickers sewing machine! 

Aaaaaaand you're done! 

Geeky posing and gun props optional! 

Love my new T-Shirt! 

Jo :-) 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Lady in Red! - Outfit Post

Quick outfit post from the other day as I felt rather well put together for a change! This is part of my "it's old, I don't mind it getting grubby but I still want to look cute" wardrobe that I utilise for work a lot of the time! 

Beret: First Avenue Classics via a charity shop
Shrug: New Look years ago!
Necklace: gift
Dress: F+F Tesco via eBay 
Belt: Dorothy Perkins via a charity shop
Vest and Leggings: Primark
Boots: New Look

Mostly my work wardrobe just needs to be warm. Layers are such a good friend! Primark is amazing for cheap items to wear under my clothes in the winter. Ditto all the supermarket clothing lines! 

I'm sure as winter gets here I'll go back to trousers and heavy fleeces but for now I'm hanging onto my skirts for as long as possible! 

Also a selfie because my make up went beautifully that day and matched my outfit perfectly! Make up is all by Collection except my Mascara which is by Marks and Spencer's. Slowly upgrading my make up to BUAV approved cruelty free brands, but I'm not one for waste! 

Hope you're all having a lovely week! 

Jo :-) 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Banana Chocolate Cupcakes - Vegan Recipe

I made these the other day for my Dad's birthday. They're very rich and moist and very chocolatey! The recipe makes 10 small cupcakes. Or fairy cakes. But not big ol' muffins! 


1 fairly ripe banana
1 tsp baking powder
A heaped table spoon of dark cocoa powder 
50g muscavado sugar (could be subbed for other sugar but this is very rich!)
50g vegan margarine 
75g self raising flour 


Mix the first three ingredients together. Mashing the banana until it's as smooth as possible. 

Add the sugar and the margarine and beat together. 

Add the flour a bit at a time until it comes together in a smooth, glossy, fairly thick consistency. 

Restrain yourself from eating it out of the bowl....

Divide into cake cases!

Bake for 15 minutes in a 180 degree C oven until a skewer comes out clean. 

I hope you enjoy them! 

I want to try out more egg substitutes in my baking as cooked banana isn't always my thing!! Dad loved them though:-) 

Jo :-)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

October Challenge 2014

I see all sorts of challenges appear at various times on Instagram and none of the photo ones particularly appealed to me. In the spirit of my hundred happy days challenge (going well by the way #joshappyhundred if you're interested!) I thought I'd make a list of 31 things to achieve this month. Little things that Mae a difference to me and others. Things that make me feel happy. Some things that are just a plain old good idea! 

They might be done one a day or could be accomplished over the course of the month. I hope it will be a little daily push to achieve more! 

1) cook something delicious
2) handmake a present for someone 
3) finish a sewing project
4) finish a knitting project
5) bake a cake for someone else
6) take photos of my family
7) take photos of my friends
8) do something for charity
9) hand make birthday cards ready for up to Christmas
10) start a Christmas list (!!)
11) make a new skirt
12) try a new vegan dish 
13) go running again
14) pick blackberries
15) pick apples and make apple sauce to freeze
16) eBay some old wardrobe items
17) read a new book
18) learn about something new
19) start learning Italian again
20) have a pampering day. Face mask, nails, the lot! 
21) try a new dance move
22) do something kind to make someone smile
23) crochet a dark red snood
24) clean out and use a new handbag
25) make up some business cards for work and the jazz club
26) make a Halloween costume
27) write a letter to someone
28) go on a walk and collect sloes
29) make slow gin
30) make my car sparkle 
31) make some donations to a charity shop 

Hopefully this will give me something to aim for each day (or at least start and finish within a month!!). You can follow me on Instagram or twitter (@ofavintageair) to see my progress. #josoctoberchallenge 

Jo :-) 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Oat and Ginger Cookies - Vegan Recipe

My Dad recently got diagnosed with gallstones and until he has it removed in a couple of months he's on a very low fat diet. (And I think he misses his treats!) So I came up with this recipe. 

It also ticks the vegan and vegetarian boxes which is awesome :-)

Oat and Ginger Cookies


100g self raising flour
100g oats
100g muscavado sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger*
140g plain applesauce (mine was homemade, basically just apple puree! I even left the skin on! I'm lazy)

*dad loves (loves) ginger so I've put more than this in mine! Feel free to add any combination of spices you want!! 


Heat oven to 180'C

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Try and get most of the lumps out of the sugar. No worries if you don't! 

Mix in the applesauce! 

Try not to eat it. 

Put on baking paper lined baking trays in little cookie shaped rounds. Flatten them a little. (They rise a tad but don't really spread out)

Bake for 13 minutes. 

Don't burn your tongue and enjoy!! :-)

They're pretty fabulous warm and chewy :-) 

These ones are actually part baked. They're going in the freezer so Dad's treats will last longer than just one evening! 

They should take about eight minutes in the oven from frozen I reckon. It's a bit of guess work now! 

Off to bake more cookies!! :-) 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Fresh Quinoa Salad - Vegan Recipe

Hi guys! Something new from me today! 

A lot has changed since my last post. I've moved to Norfolk, I'm no longer engaged, and I've gone all vegetarian! And that means no real fur coats either! 

Anyway, on a search for good veggie recipes, it struck me that I take lots of ideas from all over the place and cut corners left, right and centre! Some things turn out simply and well, and I thought I'd start sharing some of those recipes here! This is the first! 

Fresh Quinoa Salad


Quinoa (however much you think you need for each person)
Veggie stock (homemade will be vegan, check shop bought!)
Mango (1/2 per person)
Cucumber (2 inch chunk per person)
Avocado (1/2 per person)
Juice of a 1 Lime (per person)
Small bunch of Coriander
A little olive oil
Any other seasoning you'd like!


Put your quinoa on to cook (with or without stock depending on your preference)

Dice all the fruit and cucumber
Juice the lime and add finely chopped coriander, the oil and any other seasoning and whisk it all together 
When the quinoa is cooked, mix it all together!

Serve either as a warm main meal salad or side dish. Or leave to cool and have as a cold salad served on baby spinach leaves. 

Adding red onion could be good. Maybe a little garlic.... 

Such a lovely summery dish! Enjoy!! 

Jo :-) 

Friday, 7 February 2014

February Aim & January Catch Up!

First off I'd like to send my best wishes, love and hopes for dry weather to anyone who's been affected with all the storms in the UK. I know we're supposed to have miserable winters but this is crazy! 

So February happened the day we got back off holiday, spent the entire day sleeping and then went to a Burn's night party! 

It's taken me a while to catch up with everything. Work. Laundry. Ugh. Coming back to real life after two weeks is always such a shock to the system!! 

So, as usual on this blog, I present my monthly aim! Late. :-)

I love that picture. Although I'm kind of glad we haven't had any snow yet! 

I decided to carry on January's aim really, to decrease my pile of almost finished sewing projects! Which should tell you how January's aim went! I just completely ran out of time before holidays! 

We've got a Mardi Gras at the Jazz Club (@colchesterjazz on twitter if you're interested!) which my Hawaiian fabric should be perfect for. 

So here's a quick list of things that need finishing. 

Evening dress - I sewed the side seams too tight so I just need to add a couple of inches, re sew, then seam rip the old ones! 

Hawaiian pieces - skirt, shorts, halter neck top. 

Silk Blouse - silver bias binding round arms and neck. 

Sheer skirt - I'd like another of these, and they're very easy to make! You can find my tutorial for one here.

I've got a bag to finish made from some jeans. A whole load of wool related stuff, and a dress to turn into a skirt for a friend. 

So that should keep me busy for a month! 

Normal service should be resumed fairly shortly, I think I'm just about caught up with myself now! The 100 happy days posts that I've missed due to lack of Internet will be up soon, too. I think technically I've failed on the challenge as I haven't uploaded one a day, but I have taken them, I just lacked Internet connection for most of the time!! Then I got lost on what day I was on number wise and gave up a bit, so I'm hoping to catch up with it all over the weekend! 

Wish me luck!


P.S. planning anything special for February? 

Monday, 20 January 2014

Easy Sheer Gathered Skirt Tutorial

I've had a whole load of beautiful fabrics from India sitting in my stash for a long while now. 

Some are fairly heavy and ok for general type sewing, but there's not a lot of these. The majority are gorgeous, sheer, silky fabrics. 

Which left me at a complete loss as to what to do with them. 

I was showing some to my girlfriends when they came over for Christmas dinner and ended up putting Dani into a sari. Which is what they're cut to be made into. 

Then I had two brainwaves! Not major lightbulb moments and probably terribly obvious to everyone else! 

1) the gathered waist, floor length sheer skirts I've been seeing all over the place for a while now. 

2) silk scarves and floaty wraps. Which will be perfect for holiday. The fabric's are so lovely you just want to wrap yourself in them, so why not do just that?! This option obviously only requires cutting and hemming to be finished. 

Option one I felt could be accomplished using only what I had at home. (And maybe purchased elastic at some point in the future!)

How To Make a Simple Gathered Skirt

1) measure your widest point at your hips/bum/basically anywhere below where you want the skirt to start. 

2) double this measurement plus a seam allowance. I used double as I wanted plenty of room for dancing, and no splits at the bottom of the skirt. 

3) decide how long you want your skirt to be. Mine was easy as my fabric was exactly the right length to go from my waist to the floor. If yours isn't or you want it shorter, measure. Then add two and a half inches for the top seaming and an inch (or smaller depending on your seams) to the measurement. 

4) you should end up with a rectangle of cloth. I like to start by hemming the long bottom edge. I turn it over twice to hide the raw edges then stitch right the way along it. 

5) then we deal with the top. As I have an old sewing machine that only does straight stitch I always make casings for elastic waists etc. if you're using one inch elastic (or ribbon as in my case!!) you need to fold your top line over an inch and a half, then turn the edge under twice to create a tube that's an inch wide when stitched down. 

6) I French seam my edges when I join them to hide the raw edge again. It's only straight stitching so it doesn't take long. Put wrong sides together and sew as close to the edge as you can, then fold back right sides together and sew down about a centimetre from the edge to encase the first stitch line. Hey presto French seam! 

7) if you're just using ribbon to fasten at the waist, thread this through using a safety pin, put skirt on, tie a pretty bow and you're done! If you're using elastic, measure a length to a snug fit on your waist and cut with a centimetre extra. Feed through the channel (safety pin again!) and then stitch back and forward a few times to secure the elastic in a loop. Hand stitch the raw edges of the channel together. 

8) wear your beautiful floaty new skirt! Preferably with a coordinating slip or skirt or shorts or leggings (you get the picture) underneath if it's sheer! 

Sorry for the current lack of photos. When I wear it later in the week I will take some of the finished product!! As I'm on holiday and supposed to be putting my feet up! 


P.S. have you got any fabric you don't know what to do with? 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Week One of Happy

I can't believe I'm through my first week of happy snaps already! If nothing else this challenge has already taught me that life will just speed past if you don't pay attention to it! 

I've managed a photo a day so far. Sometimes two! It seems that I enjoy making things a lot. And sunny days, but who doesn't like those!?

So here's my first batch of photos for you. As always, see them "live" on my Instagram (and twitter if it will play ball!) @ofavintageair 

Day 1) warm fluffy toasty socks. 

Day 2) Gammon slow cooked in cider then roasted!

Day 3) sunny days at the workshop with the doors wide open. 

Day 4) baking, especially for friends. And that cake was delicious. And boozy. 

Day 5) this was boozy too. Chocolate and baileys mousse that didn't set so became ice cream instead!!  

Day 6) sewing on my vintage vickers sewing machine. 

Day 7) making plum and cinnamon cake then eating it straight out of the oven with dad (made me happy) and forgetting to take a pretty picture (made me laugh because I'd intended to but we got too excited!)

Day 8) finding little gems in charity shops. Like this adorable sewing box table. With lift out tray, drawer, places for scissors and a giant pin cushion type thing. Technical, moi? It's gorgeous and I couldn't leave it behind. It's got some French polishing in its future and I just need to find some scissors that fit the cut outs!! 

I'm not totally sure if this is in the realm of being happy with what you have as I bought it, but it's better than buying new and I intend to give it a new lease of life and treasure it for a long time! 

Day 9) Hair chalk. Literally what it says on the tin. Colouring your hair with chalk. I'm currently blue and green streaked. It is immense and washes out easily so yay! 

All the colours get in my hair!! 

Jo :-) 

P.S. are you doing the challenge? What do you have to be happy about?

January Aim - Halfway

First off, I can't believe it's halfway through January already. 

Time is flying along!! 

My aim for this January was sewing. Catching up on projects I've started, but not finished yet, and mostly getting things done for India. 

I'm leaving for hols on Friday, so there's not much time left!! This is the list I had in my original blog post. 

Things I'd like to finish for India:

1) Evening dress that's still on the mannequin. I finished this a couple of nights ago, but I've managed to see the side seams too tight, so my MUST DO job Friday morning is to sew looser new seams and seam rip the old ones! 

2) Halter neck top in Hawaiian print. No progress, the self drafted pattern is not helping matters. When will I learn!! 

3) Shorts in Hawaiian print. Just the (really aggravating) waistband and bottom hems to do. 

4) Wrap around circle skirt in Hawaiian print. Haven't started this, and may just make one of my normal circle skirts on Friday. They only take a couple of hours! (<that's probably the nail in its coffin though!!)

5) Denim shorts. Not gonna happen. No time. 

6) A couple of sheer blouses, time has not permitted, but I've got a half made silk top that I might find the time to put some bias binding on!

Knitting and Crochet

7) pink beret. Nope. Might take this with me. 

8) green headband. Done a bit more, again, might take it with me!

(Old picture, it's much bigger than this now!)

9) cream scarf. Nope. 

10) chunky blue scarf. Still nope! 

I would say I'm failing quite badly at this months challenge!! I think a) I'm better at sewing things I need and b) I got distracted by upcycling some of Eric's old jeans into a slouchy bag and some aprons. 

I have seen up a (beautifully easy) sheer, floor length, gathered over skirt though. Which is wonderful. I hope to share an easy peasy tutorial on it while I'm away! Internet dependant! 

That's all folks, wish me luck with manic sewing Friday morning! 

Jo :-) 

P.S. has your sewing pile shrunk any this new year? 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

100 Days of Happy

Bit of a random post today! 

I've read Jen's blog of her Make do and Mend Year ( ) for a long time now, although I rarely comment, (bad blogger!) today one of her posts popped through to my email box and I thought I might join in. 

It was all about slowing down and taking the time to appreciate the things we have more. The challenge is called 100 days of happy and details, plus sign up can be found at or search #100happydays. 

The aim is to take a photo a day for 100 days of something that makes you happy. No competing, no cheating, just little personal moments that honestly make you smile. 

As they say. It's the little things. 

I'll be doing the challenge on Instagram and Twitter ( @ofavintageair ) starting today. 

Here's my first happy photo:

My fluffy pink socks always make me (and my feet) happy! They're so toasty. And luminous apparently. They're perfect inside my steel toe capped boots which always get so cold in the winter! So I'm happy and grateful for these socks! Especially as they were a bargain in a sale about a year ago!! 

I'm hoping to do a blog update every Thursday from now on until April 17th 2014 when my 100 days will be up. 

Wish me luck with the challenge! I'm sure I'm happy at least once every day, it's just finding the time to photograph it. 

Which is the whole point! 

Jo :-)

P.S. will you be joining in? #100happydays

Monday, 6 January 2014

December Instagram Round Up

Or. An excuse for some pretty pictures! 

I normally do the top five most liked pics, but this time there's three tied at the bottom. So I'm going to do seven instead. 

Just think of it like a bonus!! 


Sewing on my wonderful Singer. She is the best. I never want to change her. 

The culottes I was sewing though. Failure. They need some work.... Or maybe a bin. Hmm. 


Draping a dress to go with some beautiful 30s deco items from my eventual mother in law. The fabric was £2.50 from a charity shop and it's just lovely. 

Can't wait to put this together. 


Making mince pies with my mum. And feeling like a child again. 

This set off a monumental amount of baking in my house when I got home. I've made mince pies, jam tarts, puff pastry for the first time, sausage rolls, pork and apple chutney pies, marmite swirls, and enough food to last months!!


My hair doing wonderful things for a change. Right before I went to bed. Ugh. 

Apparently my hair has a sense of humour. Which would explain why when I need to leave in five minutes, it decides its going to look rubbish and be completely unmanageable. 


The black satin that finally arrived for my Godmother's housecoat. It's lovely. Just need some pink fleece and we'll be in business! 


The housecoat pattern. Which has led to me lusting after one in blue and white stripes...

It's just so beautiful. I see many things being made from this pattern in the future!

1) The top liked post of December is.....:

A terrible selfie of me in a mirror! 

Really. Fitting myself for an evening dress I'm making using a top I don't wear anymore, a 25p zip from a charity shop, some fabric from India and mile upon mile of silver bias binding!! It's coming along nicely and is part of my aim for January. Can't wait to see it finished. 

Jo :-)

P.S. what were your December best bits? Instagram or otherwise!