Sunday, 26 May 2013

Custom Baby Boy Onesies

Blues... Elephants... Bow ties... There must be a new baby in town!  And an extremely cute one at that.  As you saw last week with the cupcakes I made, our friends welcomed a new arrival to their family.  Our very sweet, new little friend Lucas has been born and we love him already!

I'm so excited to be sharing the onesie designs I created for him in the lead up to his birth.  Some personalised hand stitching, some applique, and my favourite - the custom made baby boy bow ties and button down onesie!

Since we found out our friends were having a baby boy my brain has been whirring with ideas about what to make and create for him (and them!).  The bow ties were my first and favourite idea, followed by the personalised hand stitched name and date, and then with the making of a toy elephant (I'll be blogging that soon) I thought a matching elephant onesie would be fun.

I first purchased 3 onesies - 2 in size 0-3 months, and 1 in size 6-12 months so that there was a variety for him, as well as getting 2 short sleeved, and 1 long sleeved in white, light blue and dark blue!  Oh the choices!  I definitely wanted to work with different shades of blue for him, not only for 'blue for a boy' but of course he is a Toronto Maple Leaf fan, so blue will definitely be playing a large part in his life!! :-)

The biggest onesie, the size 6-12 month was accessorised with light blue buttons and velcro patches for the flannel bow ties that just stick right on, and come right off for mixing and matching (and washing)!  He'll be the most handsome, smartest little boy around :-)

I'm going to write a separate tutorial post about the bow ties, with more details on sizing and measurements but for today it's just the photographs of the finished products!  

I'm also super excited that Lucas' photographer Mommy - Krista, who specialises in newborn, maternity and family photography in the Toronto area has already snapped a shot of him wearing his personalised hand stitched onesie.  A special date to remember for this new baby boy ♥ 

Now these gifts are given, I've been wondering what is next!  There are many more projects on the 'to do' list...I'm just waiting for a little more time in the Summer :-)

I've also been thinking about adding these bow ties to my rather small Etsy shop!  What do you all think?  Would you and your little boy be interested?! 

More on these onesies coming soon!  Stop by again soon for the tutorials on my applique elephant, the stuffed toy elephant I made as well as of course, these bow ties :-)

While you're here, check out the incredible photography business our friend and cousin runs here in Toronto.  Taking a little break while she enjoys time with their new baby gives you lots of time to read her blog and check out her great website full of beautiful babies and their families :-)  

And don't forget my new Facebook page is always looking for new followers and friends!  Click here to 'Like' my page and get Sew Lah Tea Dough updates right to your newsfeed.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Liebster Award!!

A bonus post for the week you ask?!  Something outside the regular Sunday post for Sew Lah Tea Dough?!  I know, weird right - I love routine!  But I have some exciting blog news to share... On Saturday morning I got a wonderful comment linking me to the great Anyonita Nibbles blog, letting me know that she had nominated me for a LIEBSTER AWARD!!!! Yey!!  Many of you know what this is, and I had seen it on a few blogs I follow but never thought that it would be my turn any time soon, so as you can probably imagine, I am super excited to be a part of this... hence the bonus post!

But what is a Liebster Award?  The award is given from bloggers, to bloggers... Giving recognition to new and small blogs of 200 followers or less - and yes, that is me - I am pleased to have 69 Facebook followers, but yes, 50 of these are family and friends!  The purpose of the award is to meet new and up and coming bloggers :-)  Yey!  

So with a combination of our friends' new baby boy (check out my cupcakes here) and an incredible long weekend filled with adventure AND this exciting blogging news it is all just wonderful around here :-)

Onto the Liebster Award fun... Here are the rules:

Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked you.
Post 11 random facts about yourself.
Give the award to at least 5, but no more than 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers.
Tell your recipients that they have received the award.
Come up with 11 questions for your recipients.

Here are the questions (now with answers) that Anyonita from Anyonita Nibbles asked me:

1.  Why did you start blogging?

All my life I have crafted things, baked cakes and loved to be busy making and baking!  As I got more adventurous in my cake decorating, and with the arrival of Pinterest in my lives I noticed how much the world loved reading about arts, crafts and all things food!  Maybe I could put my things down in writing as well?  I tried a Tumblr but didn't stick to it but here I am, since January this year blogging week after week, linking up and sticking to it - and I am so pleased I get to write things down, learn more about how to do things better as I go and that you all get to read about it :-)

2.  What is your favourite thing to blog about?

Hmm, well as you can see from the title of my blog - Sew Lah Tea Dough, I created this blog to not only be about 1 activity, but all my favourite things!!  If I had to chose one, I think it would have to be Dough - baking, decorating, all things cakey in particular!

3.  If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

That is TOUGH!  I love city breaks but most of all I love adventure - exploring nature, seeing new things and finding secret places all over the world.  Wherever it would be, I would want it to be with my husband Jonathan - I wish everyday could be spent travelling together ♥

4.  Which do you prefer; beach or mountains?

Definitely mountains!

5.  What is your favourite food?

Again, so hard to choose!  The amount I love to bake is definitely outweighed by my love for savoury food.  So I would have to go with sandwiches, preferably the steak variety with crispy onion straws on top, with a side of sweet potato fries!

6.  What is your favourite season?

I think right now I would have to say Winter - I LOVE Christmas, I love everything about it - the food, the family, the giving of presents, singing carols... and I also love Winter weather - snow snow snow :-D

7.  What is your job?

I love my job!  I am a piano teacher, and a music teacher to little ones - I love making music with the littlest of children but most of all I love sharing my piano learning experiences with them - creating fun and exciting piano lessons, instilling a love for music that will hopefully stay with my students throughout their lives ♫

8.  What is your favourite cuisine?

I love ALL food so it is hard to pinpoint one, but if I were to think about restaurants I love to go to it would have to be Mexican, or at least Tex Mex - burritos, fajitas, tacos, nachos - yes it would have to be that!

9.  What is your greatest achievement?

In the academic world - graduating from my Undergrad in Music, and also getting my Masters too!  In the blogging world, well the fact that so far I have stuck to it and there has been a post per week since January :-)  And in life, the greatest thing I have achieved, is the marriage to my amazing husband ♥

10.  Would you consider living abroad?

I DO!  In 2009 I went on a huge and scary adventure, leaving friends and family to be with my now husband Jonathan in Canada.  I miss home every single day and wish there was a way to be in both places at once - but here I am, a British girl living everyday in Toronto, Canada!

11.  Have you ever met anybody famous?

Not realllly.... a few bands and singer-songwriters after gigs when I was a teenager, but that's about it!  Nothing major I don't think...

And now, 11 random facts about me:

1.  I get bored REALLY easily.  I cannot watch tv without doing something else!  Not always a good thing.

2.  When I was at school my Mum helped me with ALL my sewing and textile class projects that I disliked.  I bet she never thought I would one day own my own sewing machine!

3.  I cannot eat ice cream like a normal person.  I can't bite on it, and definitely prefer it almost melted in a bowl.

4.  Dublin is one of my favourite places to go in the world and am lucky to have spent a whole lot of my life there on trips seeing my grandparents!

5.  My piano teacher was an American living in England, and now I am an English piano teacher living in Canada!

6.  I once dressed up as a double bass for a Music in the Community event where I worked in Sheffield, UK!  It was the best :-)

7.  I am British and I love tea.  But just the regular kind thanks.

8.  I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan.  Like seriously.

9.  My favourite thing to do would be to learn and play ALL different instruments all day long, forever learning new ones ♫

10.  On our road trip around the East Coast of Canada last summer we bought a lobster trap from a fisherman, which now sits on our balcony - I love it!

11.  I hate paying full price for anything.  I LOVE sales!

And my nominees for a Liebster Award are:

2.  Cupcakery  
4.  Let's Pour Tea
5.  Janae Today
6.  Good Morning Pancake

I love all of your blogs for different reasons, inspirational ideas and creations, British influences, cakes and bakes and lots more - thanks for sharing your posts :-)

11 questions for you!...

1.  When and why did you starting blogging?
2.  What is your most best, or favourite post you have written so far in your blogging life!?
3.  Coke or Pepsi?
4.  Did you join Pinterest before or after starting your own blog?
5.  Sweet or savoury?
6.  What is your favourite thing to blog about?
7.  Where are you from in the world?  
8.  What is the best thing about where you live?
9.  Ice cream in a cup, or in a cone?
10.  Do you play a musical instrument?  
11.  Outside of work, and blogging, what is your favourite thing to spend time doing?

I am so super excited to be part of this Liebster Award, and thanks again to Anyonita for nominating me - it has been a lot of fun thinking about those questions - learning things about myself whilst writing the answers, and I love the chance to tell people about the great blogs I love to read :-)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Cupcakes for a New Baby Boy ♥

"Straight from heaven up above, here is a baby for you to love"

We are so happy that our great friends welcomed a new baby boy into their sweet family earlier this week - he is a baby truly loved already, and we were so excited to be able to go and visit when he was just 1 day old - treats and gifts in tow of course!

I have been busy for a good little while now making some secret projects (that I had to hide away when they came over to visit!) in advance of their new baby and have a lot of blogging to do about it but first, seeing as I had shared a Sneak Peek of my cupcakes on my Facebook page I thought these could come first.

There was definitely a theme to my handmade gifts, you will definitely see elephants popping up on this blog a few more times as I write more about the projects.  A lot of the inspiration came from a cookie cutter/press I found months ago in a small kitchenware shop that I KNEW I would want to use for their new baby!  I hadn't used it until now, but I am so so pleased with how it turned out.  

The best bit about choosing an elephant theme... elephants may be making an appearance in the new nursery they are preparing!!  SO excited to see more elephants everywhere, we are all zoo lovers after all!

We found out their new baby had arrived on Monday afternoon, so straight after work I got to making the final sewing project for him (whilst watching the Leafs get knocked out of the NHL Playoffs BOO) before starting on some cupcakes to take with us when we visited the next day!

I had known all along I wanted cupcakes to be a part of the gift, and this set of 3 designs meant a little bit of variety, but still on the same theme - blues and elephants of course!

I used a basic vanilla cupcake recipe, with buttercream frosting piped on top (see the recipe below), and whilst I was aiming for a pale blue buttercream colour - the liquid food colouring I was using (which was definitely blue!) turned this beautiful shade of mint green after a few drops, and I was happy with that - it's such a summery colour (and one of my very favourite colours!) and provided a good contrast with the cupcake toppers and decorations I was going to use :-)

As I mentioned before, I used a cookie cutter/stamp to make the elephants but rather than cutting out cookies, I cut out fondant I had coloured grey!  BAH I love the press - and am definitely going to buy more from that same shop!  I also cut out pale blue fondant stars, and then used blue and white sugar big round sprinkles (that came from a pack of red, white and blue jubilee style sprinkles!) for the other two designs of cupcakes.

I am SO pleased with how these cupcakes turned out and cannot wait to share the rest of my projects with you, although the most important people this time already received them...the new beautiful baby boy, the cutest big sister and excited parents of two little ones! :-)

Recipe - makes 12


4oz butter, softened
4oz caster sugar
2 eggs
4oz self-raising flour

I told you it was basic right?!  I also added a splash of vanilla :-)

8oz icing sugar
4oz butter
1 tablespoon of milk
Flavouring or food colouring if required


1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and line a 12-hole cake tin with paper cases.
2.  Place the butter, sugar, eggs and flour in a large bowl and beat together until smooth.  Add vanilla if you like!!
3.  Spoon the mixture into the paper cases.
4.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until well risen, golden brown and when a cake tester (I use a potato skewer) comes out clean.
5.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
6.  While they are cooling, make the buttercream:  Place the butter in a bowl and beat until fluffy - sift in the icing sugar and beat together until smooth.
7.  When the cakes are cool, spread or pipe the icing on top of each cake and decorate as you like!

Nice and easy, which was lucky as it was 10.30 at night - but all totally worth it.  And I got the best approval of the taste - when a not quite 2 year old keeps coming back for more bites... Now that makes me a happy baker :-)

*** Two links to click today! ***

Check out the incredible photography business our friend and cousin runs here in Toronto - taking a little break while she enjoys time with their new baby gives you lots of time to read her blog and check out her great website full of beautiful babies and their families :-)  

And don't forget my new Facebook page is always looking for new followers and friends!  Click here to 'Like' my page and get Sew Lah Tea Dough updates right to your newsfeed.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

A Taste of Britain: Golden Syrup Cake

The second Mother's Day of the year is done!!  We had a yummy lunch for my in-laws at our place, prepared with great teamwork between me, my husband and sister-in-law :-)  We had Jonathan's grandmothers over as well, so it was a nice tight squeeze for 7 people around our small round kitchen table in our not huge, but all nice and tidy for the occasion condo!!

We had yummy chicken breasts done on the barbecue - marinated in lemon juice, garlic, sage, honey and olive oil - check out the recipe we used here!  It was a quick phone search in the car on the way to the supermarket, but it was really delicious and flavourful so a good find!!

Accompanying the chicken was my rice salad I blogged about last week and part of that great teamwork - a potato salad brought over by Jonathan's sister.  And at first I wasn't sure that the dessert I wanted to make would be cohesive enough with the light fresh chicken and cold salads but as it turned out Toronto decided to have some serious winds, snow, rain and a frost warning for tonight so perhaps the warm sponge cake with cream was just about right!

Today marked occasion number 2 in less than two weeks that I baked this Golden Syrup Cake, that's a lot of syrup that has been around here recently. The first time we baked it for our friends who came over for dinner, partial to a sponge cake but without wanting to do the norm I was excited to figure out this recipe.  It seemed like a sticky toffee pudding idea with a twist.

Lyle's Golden Syrup, you are the key player in this recipe, hence you made it into my 'A Taste of Britain' series of blog posts.  And yes, we are ridiculous and bring heavy things like 454g of syrup in a tin back from England - Canada with us.  All because of the 'Happy and Glorious' Queen's Jubilee edition design - but seriously, it is amazing - I love it and although it is now empty I am for sure keeping the tin as a prop for future golden syrup baking blog photographs!

The first time I made this, I actually halved the recipe, and baked it in a 6 inch springform pan but today I did the whole thing in a 9 inch pan, and there is quite a bit leftover!  You could probably also do this in a loaf pan, two sandwiches (mm yum, with a filling inside?!)...oh and also some cupcakes too!  Last night I put a little of the scrapings in a couple of cupcake cases just to see and it worked well too - just need to watch the timing to see when they're done!

Alright, enough chatting, here comes the recipe...

(to serve 8)

225g unsalted butter
225g light muscovado sugar
450ml Lyle's Golden Syrup - not all Canadian supermarkets sell this, I don't know about in the States but search not only the baking aisle, but also look with the other syrups and spreads!
450g self-raising flour
2 large eggs
300ml whole milk

And one final item the recipe included but I decided to omit was an additional 4 tablespoons of the golden syrup meant for pouring over the warm freshly baked cake - after a little taste of the scrapings I was a little wary of just how sweet it would be and I didn't want it to be sickly sweet and figured I would be serving it warm so if our guests wanted an extra dose of syrup flavour they could pour some on along with the cream!


1.  Preheat the oven to 160°C/ 325°F and grease a 30cm cake tin and line with greaseproof paper - again I used a 9 inch springform pan and it was an almost perfect size for the cake to rise without overflowing!

2.  Place the butter, golden syrup and sugar into a large saucepan and heat gently until the ingredients are just melted together, stirring occasionally.  Remove the pan from the hob and leave to cool for 10 minutes.  Really do use a large saucepan... Later on you will be mixing all of the ingredients not in a mixing bowl but in this pan so go big!

3.  Beat the eggs with the milk.  Add the flour and milk/egg mixture to the cooled syrup mixture in the pan and beat steadily with a wooden spoon until smooth and lump free.  At this point I actually 'tempered' the two mixtures - pouring a little of the still warm syrup/sugar/butter mix to the egg/milk first so the warm-cold wasn't too much of a shock for the eggs, and then poured it in as per the recipe.  Watching all these baking shows on tv maybe has paid off :-)

4.  Bake for around 50 minutes (quite a bit longer for the pan I used, wider I guess - I did extra 5 minute intervals, probably looking at 1 hour and 10 minutes in the end).  The cake should be well risen and springy but still very moist.

5.  The step I skipped:  Leave to cool for a few minutes, then pierce the cake all over with a skewer and spoon the extra golden syrup over the top.  Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Now I am pretty glad I have no kind of nutritional information on this cake, let's just say there might be quite a few calories per slice, especially having been served with Devonshire clotted cream!!

I left the cake in the springform pan after cooking and then put it back in a low heat oven for 10 - 15 minutes  to warm because isn't thick delicious cream melting slightly over a warm sponge the best way to eat it?!  I think so.

I hope everybody enjoyed Mother's Day lunches, dinners, treats, crafts everything today (or in the UK in March!) :-)  Have a great week!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Rice Salad in the Sunshine

What a week we have had weather-wise!  Glorious non-stop sunshine and it isn't ending any time soon... We have had a mammoth afternoon of planting flowers and herbs again (in our DIY herb garden I posted about a couple of weeks ago!) and are about to enjoy a yummy bbq dinner on the balcony :-)

In addition to the sunshine, I also finally created a Facebook page for Sew Lah Tea Dough - after 4 months live to the world I thought it was about time.  I would love for you to 'Like' my page and follow me there.  Click here to find me, and get post updates right to your news feed!

Inspired by the sunshine this week I got to work making a cold salad for a weeknight dinner.  We had made it once before, last year some time but I changed up the ingredients a little this week and got it ready to go.  As I have mentioned before, coming home from teaching piano late in the evening doesn't always mean for much fun getting dinner prepared and eaten before I fall asleep!  This was a perfect side dish that I could prepare in the daytime and it would be ready to eat all week long.

Added bonus... my husband LOVES it!  So we'll definitely be making it again really soon, like this week again maybe!!

Here is the recipe with the ingredients I chose to add in and the amounts of each.  But the best thing about this recipe is how interchangeable it all is.  If you like nuts a lot, add more... if you don't like cranberries but you do like raisins, then sure, why not - switch it up!!


1 1/2 cups brown or white and wild rice blend
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Here are the extras I added:

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion (last year we did big chunks and these weren't so nice to eat whole, this time the finely chopped pieces were so much nicer!)
1/4 cup green onion (yes, that's what they call spring onion!) - this was about 2 sprigs out of the bunch
1/8 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup sliced and blanched almonds - toasted first for about 2 minutes
1/2 cup cooked and cooled sweetcorn
50g feta cheese, just less than 1/2 cup of small cubes

For the dressing:

1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp honey


1.  Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan.

2.  Add rice and salt.

3.  Bring down to a gentle simmer, cover with the lid and cook for 18 minutes (or as your rice packaging suggests)

4.  Fluff with a fork and leave to cool.

5.  Refrigerate if not using right away.  I kept mine in the fridge until that evening when I got home from work and threw in the additional flavours and ingredients.

6.  Mix all of the "extras" into the cooled rice.

7.  Combine dressing ingredients and stir into rice mix.

8.  Scoop and serve!! Enjoy!

This recipe made 5 cups of salad.  Perhaps enough for 6-8 servings, depending on how hungry you are (and for us, that definitely meant 6 not 8...oops!)

I would love to know what flavours or ingredients you prefer, or what additions you would make to this!  Drop me a comment and let me know :-)