Friday, 28 January 2011

Something for the weekend

When it's cold outside, what you need is comfort food to gently ease you into the weekend.

Marmalade cake courtesy of Nigel Slater -

made with homemade Seville orange marmalade

and a slice or two of Hot Cross Bun loaf loaded with peel, fruit and cinnamon.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

New Skills

Thank you all for your encouraging words on my last post regarding my minor sewing disaster - mistakes will happen.....

Whilst flicking through some books the other day, I came across one I hadn't browsed through in years.

Many of the projects are now out of date but I liked the look of this one - Braided Rug

You might need to click on it to enlarge it.

"Apparently the first fabric-strip floor coverings were made at a time when new cloth was in short supply.  Their distinctive muted appearance came from the use of mixed fabrics, recycled from clothing and domestic textiles, as few of the early makers could afford the luxury of planning a special colour scheme for their work."

I have an ever growing pile of fabric strips which I do get utilised for various projects but I thought this one would put them to good use too.

You basically need to take 3 fabric strips of about 2.5" wide (length doesn't matter).  Put a few stitches through them at one end (to keep them together) - then plait away! until you reach the end when you add some more stitches.  Don't worry about being too precise!

Keep making plaits until you have your desired number, stitch them into one long length, coil them round adding little stitches to keep the coil together.

Make coasters, mats or indeed rugs which I'm hoping to do - I'm not sure how long it'll take me, but I'll squeeze a few plaits in between other jobs.

I'll let you know once I've made a rug!

Monday, 24 January 2011


Here we are again, back at the start - hope everyone is well?

On Friday I started a new make, but realised I couldn't finish it as I didn't have enough interlining - how frustrating!  On Saturday I set too to have it completed - little did I know there were going to be a few problems......

Lesson 1 - don't try and complete something when you're tired.

Lesson 2 - don't even attempt anything new when you're in a bad mood.

Lesson 3 - don't keep going, waste a whole day and end up fudging it.

Em - I didn't want to leave it and waste Sunday trying to finish it, and maybe I should have done as once it was finished I was so frustrated with it, it ended up in the bin (it did promptly get removed).

On reflection, 1 mistake then spiralled out of control so I know for next time (ha ha).  When cutting out the top layer of petals against the backing fabric and then the interlining, I didn't number them so when I tried to then line up the 3 layers, they didn't which is why there's some puckering (I did clip the edges!). Grrrr

Meanwhile, I have been enjoying success with my ever growing crochet blanket, which I've oddly named the ice cream blanket.  I'm not sure how big I'm going to make it but it does cheer me up!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

New Life

Having had a couple of glorious but cold days this week, I took myself into the garden to have a wander and to will Spring on!

The birds seem chirpy enough at the moment - maybe they're glad of the sun too.

Despite the frost, despite the leaf mountain across the garden, despite broken branches, twigs and dead foliage, I do believe there's a glimmer of hope emerging from the ground -

the snowdrops are beginning to come out, my bulbs are poking themselves out of the ground

my most favourite of all Spring plants - the primrose, resolutely flowering in these chilly conditions

Even the fungus and thought 'what the heck'

Long may the sunshine continue and banish away our winter blue's.

I must say thank you to Andrea and to Hannah for awarding me the Stylish Blogger award.

Now, I'm not very good at awarding these as there are so many fantastic blogs out there and in my view all of them are stylish, so I would like to pass this onto to all those I read.  As for listing 7 things about myself - there's probably not a lot you don't know already!  but there's perhaps one thing you don't -
I have a walk in cupboard in our bedroom and it's filled to the gunnels with stuff - handbags, perfume, toiletries, nail varnishes, pretty washbags amongst many others.  When I'm having a 'glass is half empty' kind of day, I'll take myself off to my feel good cupboard to have a rummage!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Woolly balls

Rain, rain, go away......well, that was a bit of a wet one wasn't it?  Hope everyone enjoyed the weekend despite the rain.

My brain seemed somewhat jumbled this weekend and I found it hard to focus on much so spent most of the time flitting between projects and cooking, not a bad combination I guess.

Saturday morning was spent doing some domestic chores and while we were out, I spotted a proper greengrocers!  Oh, I can't tell you how refreshing it was to see fruit and veg piled high tempting us to touch and buy, and did we ever.  It made such a change not to have produce cellophaned in unnecessary packing.  It might sound a little strange for those who have greengrocers local to them, but we, here, seem to be surrounded by supermarkets. 

Having armed ourselves with lots of fresh produce, I set to on our return and made some roasted red pepper and vine tomato soup, chucked in some garlic and celery just for a few more vitamins!  Now, I don't normally cost out meals, but having bought the produce in the morning I thought it'll be an interesting exercise - for £3.00 it fed all 4 of us.  OK, it was only veg, but it was fresh, local, and we were supporting a shopkeeper which made me feel a little virtuous!

Back to woolly balls - last week I spotted this pretty wreath and thought I fancied having a go, using some vibrant colours.

So with one of these

some of those

to do this

you end up with a collection of these

and finally the finished article

I added a wired flower garland as I felt it just needed that bit extra.  It was a very relaxing, easy project which is always good in my book!

Have a good day.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Injections of colour

Phew, end of another week, pretty much half way through January already!

Fed up with drab and dull - synonymous with this time of year, I thought I would brighten up the end of the week with a few cheery photo's.

In between 1 school pick up and another, I popped to Hobbycraft to pick up some needed supplies.  It was lovely to see the shelves full of Easter related products (I know it's a while off, but it's colour after all!).  For £1.99 I couldn't resist this little felt basket.

Due to my increased love for crochet (having finally got somewhere with it), I treated myself to a few balls of cheery wool.  Nothing beats that, don't you think?

My crochet is slowly developing - riddled with mistakes, but who cares!

Fabric - I bought this stash in the sale - a pair of patchwork curtains beckons, after all, it's almost a year since I made my patchwork door curtain! which you can see here.  Still living with the stress of making that one, I thought I'd go for a simple square design rather than multiple triangles.  I don't think hubby is impressed that the fabric involves flowers and the colour pink.......

Try and have a 'colourful' weekend!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Thrifty prettiness

Hello - hope everyone had a lovely weekend.  Wasn't the weather glorious yesterday - it really felt like Spring!

We trotted off to the big smoke on Saturday to see George's Marvellous Medicine (Roald Dahl) at The Bloomsbury Theatre which is owned by the University College London, situated near the West End, in fact 10 minutes from St Pancreas.

The beauty of going to this theatre is that the ticket prices are a fraction of what you pay in the West End, and you get lots of leg room! We couldn't justify several hundred pounds for a family of 4, however £62 for all four of us is well within reason.

The performance was staged by the Birmingham Stage Company - only 6 actors but absolutely brilliant and lots of interaction with us the audience.  The boys really enjoyed it and so did we.

On our way back to the car, we had a walk round St Pancreas which is an incredible building and we enjoyed taking a look at the sushi bar, the longest champagne bar in Europe and watching where all the trains were coming and going.  Having been to St Pancreas a couple of years ago, we always feel it's quite a calm place but I guess for those queuing for a ridiculous amount of time for a train, before Christmas it wasn't!

Back to thrifty - During the Christmas break I got a craft magazine which came with some pretty paper's - I never normally know what to do with them and end up giving them to Jack to do something with.  This time I thought it might be nice to brighten up my shelf with some paper edging.

I cut 2 hearts out, sewed round the edges - you could glue them together.  Stuck some recycled buttons on and tacked it to the shelf.  It's come out quite well I think.

The Seville Orange marmalade season is approaching again (having only seemed like yesterday since I made some).

Now I know it can be tiresome peeling and chopping to make it, so I bought this

from Lakeland.  It contains pure Seville Orange pulp and peel and claims to make 6lb, at a cost of £2.29.  I thought I'd give it a go.  All you need is sugar and water.  Wow, what a difference - looked like marmalade, smelled like marmalade, and tasted like marmalade. 

I got 6 respectable jars from it (1 in fridge already!), so from a cost point of view, I'm not sure how £2.29 compares to buying the oranges.  I guess I'll wait till later on in the month to find out.

I thought I'd keep the tin as a plant pot as it looks quite retro.

Have a good day!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Silence is golden

Well, here we are at the start of another year.  The boys' are back today and the house is sooo quiet.  When I look back at blog posts from earlier last year, it does only seem like yesterday I wrote them.  Certainly, at the beginning of last year we had an awful lot of snow and the schools were shut on and off throughout January.  Let's see how this month goes!

Like many I don't find January an exhilarating month for obvious reasons, but I'm holding onto the prospect of Spring (very soon I hope!).

Now we're into 'balmy' like conditions, or so it seems compared to recent weeks, the birds have made a welcome visit to the garden and have been chirping away to their hearts content.  A sound I love. Yesterday we were lucky enough to see 3 Bullfinches gracing our tree. 

To keep my spirits up this month, I will, and have been setting too on new makes with some colour, along with picking up my crochet hook.  Having unsuccessfully tried for the last 2 years, I gave it another go the other night.

Here's the result so far -

I may well have cracked it, but bearing in mind I'm only going in straight lines, I might struggle with rounds again!

Bright and bold was the name of the game with this cushion and I love the fact it's so bright.  The pom-pom trim at the sides was a bit of a pain but worth the hassle!

For the reverse, I put to use some old candy striped sheeting. 

My next project was a hot water bottle cover using some left over Liberty fabric along with some polka dot fabric which I also used as lining in between fabric and wadding.  Hubby thinks I'll only have it for display and he's probably right!  Men, I don't think appreciate that some or indeed most things don't have to have a function or purpose......

Right, off for caffeine to be savoured in the peace and quiet.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a happy, and healthy Christmas and equally wonderful New Year!

Thank you to everyone who has followed me over the year and been kind enough to leave comments.  When things haven't gone as well, it's been good to know that a simple blog post or a read of some wonderful blogs can change my perspective on things.

Here's to a healthy, prosperous 2011 and I look forward to doing a proper blog post next week!