Thursday, 21 September 2017

Making and baking

The past few months has felt like there weren't enough hours in the day, then I had a brainwave moment of clarity. To much time with a screen and the Internet on around me.  My laptop and phone are usually around me so it was way to easy to just pick one up and start looking up one thing, then check emails, play a quick game, check pinterest etc etc... It is just so easy to fall down the rabbit hole that is the Internet and lose whole chunks of the day. Started to also think what could be done with the time instead.  What did I use to do? And what makes me happiest? Simple answer is being crafty/baking/cooking/sewing/reading/out exploring. Whatever my mood decides really.  Easy solution was limit the Internet activity to an hour a day. And in the time I am saving I can do the things that make me happy.

I baked a loaf of cheese and herb bread for the boys to go with tea tonight and I think they are having the leftover part for toast in the morning for breakfast.  I love to bake bread, it really is something that calms my soul and makes me smile.  These days however I don't eat much bread at all but, it will get eaten and will leave me happy and those that eat it. Here's the before baking shot.

Now the after baking shot is not as picture perfect as it could be. Mainly because I didn't think quickly enough to take a photo before getting someone else to start slicing it. Believe me though all good things were said though.  There was a discussion about it would be better with no herbs next time and just a cheese bread. We shall see how the mood goes though.  This is just a basic white bread mix with 90g of grated strong cheddar cheese, 30 g of grated Parmesan or similar, 2 tsp of powdered mustard and the liquid is luke warm milk. Just add either 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs of choice or 1.5 teaspoons of dried herbs if you want the herbs to.

Also cooked Jamie Oliver's pork and mash gratin I think it's called. The picture looks great right? I figured out the mash here is probably just covering the pan.

Mine looks somewhat a burnt mess compared to the book. Made me laugh.  Tasted a lot better than it looked though and I have been told it's a definite make it again meal.
And this evenings entertainment? I am usually the last to go to bed in this house.  It's not that I go late, it's a case of everyone else goes rather early to bed these days.  This is where I end up trawling the Internet and playing silly games etc. So this is where I decided  could definitely cut down on Internet time and start using the time to make all the things I have plans for. 
I got out one of the many patterns I have lined up to make and found the fabric to go with it and started cutting out and started sewing this tonight. 

I have made this pattern before. I also have a confession, after it was made I realised I had put the skirt on backwards, resulting in the pockets being at the back not the front.  Lining up the notches apparently can work back to front to.  Luckily the fabric works in a way no one has yet noticed. It is such and easy to wear dress that I keep wearing it.  With a cardigan on no one will ever know. Plus it gives me a small giggle and a smile when I wear it. I would take the skirt off and turn it round but I had already created the channel for the elastic and finished that off and overlocked it all.

Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress is a simple and easy dress to make and goes fairly fast to make
I'm using this elephant design viscose. Got as far as I could sewing without having to use the overlocker. As it was almost midnight and the overlocker is a lot noisier than my sewing machine I decided to not wake the boys and possibly the neighbours with it. Hopefully I can get this finished tomorrow after I get home and before I pick up my granddaughters from school

All in all a fairly productive day for once. The Internet is a brilliant resource yes but it is also a big time waster. She says while blogging and using the Internet!! I am going to set myself the challenge of keeping my laptop upstairs during the day and only using it in the evening quickly for blogging and looking up resources I need for only 30 minds in the evening.  Going to aim for a month and see how I get on. Hopefully I won't be found shaking with withdrawal and falling back into bad habits.
For tonight
take care
Jules x

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The one where I get confused a lot

I am left scratching my head yet again. I grabbed what seemed a bargain months ago at The Works, a whole £1. Make your own dreamcatcher. OK it's not wonderful but thought it would be a great way to try out making one to see if I wanted to make another in better materials.  Where could I go wrong right? So tonight or rather this morning, it's 1:36 am as I type this, I thought I would have a go while waiting for 2 am Ripped open the pack and pulled out the instructions.

Seriously? In picture one you are to wind round what looks like a long piece of what I assume is the brown leather looking flat cord.It smells like old fashioned polish, and the picture doesn't tell you how to attach the first piece to the metal ring. Or how to finish this off.  There is also not enough to cover the ring fully. Never mind I stumble through and get through the next stages 2 through to 6 kind of.  At this point I am making things up myself.

And I get to this stage. And remind myself that my hands don't work well together due to nerve damage, so to get this to the stage it is with the instructions I had I am pretty impressed with myself. So what is left? oh yes those leaf looking things in the diagram must be feathers. 

These feathers and beads are left. OK feathers and beads have to dangle from the dreamcatcher with the cords remaining, Simple right?  OK how do I attach the feathers to the cords?

Got a feeling I will be waiting until I get the glue out at some point.

Lesson learnt on this £1 kit, I would happily pay an extra £1 for some comprehensive instructions.  Really would of appreciated for the pack or instructions to have stated what else was needed to complete this project.  Other than that you get what you pay for. Although I didn't pay a pound to be frustrated I should of known better at my age. As the saying goes 'If it seems to good to be true it probably is' and this 'bargain' is to good to be true. 

I shall now go back to my new found cold and carry on with my new KAL (Knit A Long) project I think.  Less stressful and full instructions.
Until then
Take Care
Jules x 

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Sunday catch up

This week kind of flew by with school starting up again. I have finished a few things, started new things, decided the weather hates me and am embracing the cold, wet weather today.

Last night was cold, so crocheting this while wearing it was a joy. Trying to get a picture that did it justice afterwards wasn't, the light has been awful since so I gave up for now.  It is however a warm, bright and snuggly blanket. This project is one I have done while watching Netflix mostly. Last nights viewing was the very early Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who series 8. It's also been worked one watching, Orphan Black, Salem, Travellers, Finding Monday ( I think it's called?) 

Today has been a trial of sorts at times.  All I can say is I am thankful I can at least message people who understand the need to say what on earth is happening and I need chocolate.  I got told I can have chocolate on Fridays night out so that helped. Other thing to help was cooking. Although this is more a shove it in the pot and simmer meal but the house smells amazing at the moment.

Decided with things falling out the freezer and me needing to put stuff in the freezer I had better reorganise the freezer.  Oh boy! Silly thing to do. I think apart from bread, milk, veg and cat food we will be saving on the food bills for quite a few weeks.  I am now going to challenge myself to use all these odds and ends to save money and more importantly use what we have and being less wasteful.

Today I found in foil the remains of a leg of lamb.  Can't remember last time I cooked a leg of roast lamb but there was a fair amount of meat still on the bones. So all I really added to this was some veg we had in the fridge, pearl barley and lentils, parsley stalks chopped finely brought to a boil and simmering away nicely. Really is the meal for this wet, cold and windy day.

My sunshine Dresden cushion isn't quite finished, not a lot left to do but I got floored by a headache so I left it not quite finished.
To catch you up on progress all that has been done is sewing the front to the back right sides together using my sewing machine foot for the seam allowance, leaving one section open to turn it right sides out.

Trimmed of the excess backing leaving a pretty shape.

And turned it right side out making sure the curves were pushed out fully from inside. All simple so far. It's about halfway stuffed with pillow stuffing now and will hopefully finish doing that tomorrow if I am lucky. Then All that will be left is to sew the gap up.  I am not sure about whether it will have a centre button on front and back to give it a dimpled middle if you understand what I mean? What do you think should I do that? Could always try and see what it looks like maybe? After all buttons are easy to remove if it looks silly.

Other than that it's all been a little quiet.  As I said I am hopefully going to finish the cushion tomorrow then I have a new project to start knitting wise and strangely have a summer dress that needs making up for someone that I promised to do way to long ago.
Back soon to catch up again

Take Care
Jules x

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Fat Quarter sunshine AKA adventures in sewing Part 1

OK, maybe not sunshine as such but that's what these Dresden blades pieced together remind me of. Almost like a child has drawn a sun. I remembered earlier I had bought a Dresden blade quilt ruler a while ago. I knew I wanted to sew today but didn't want anything to difficult or big to do, but something new to.  Like any sewer I have a very interesting little collection of Fat Quarters. I am still hooked on these from my quilting days almost 16 years ago. Such prettiness to admire and dream of using one day in the perfect project. Does that perfect project ever arrive I wonder?

I chose just 2 Fat Quarters for the front of the cushion and cut out 10 blades of red and 10 of blue. It's hard to see in this light but they have little bits of glitter in this fabric. Glitter that doesn't spill everywhere like the half sequins I am still finding everywhere!

Very simply I sewed one of each colour together in pairs, with a 1/4 inch seam allowance then pressed the seams towards the blue side as it was darker..

Then sewed each pair to another pair, pressing in the same way. I carried on until I had all 2o forming a ring with a hole in the middle.

To cover the hole I cut out 2 pieces of material bigger that the hole in circles and sewed them right sides together.

Carefully making sure I had only one side of the circle I cut a slit.Turned the circle right sides out and pressed.

And I even impressed myself it still looks like a circle. Simply needed to pin the circle over the hole and chose a buttonhole type stitch on my machine and machine appliqued carefully around the edge of the circle attaching the circle over the hole. It took a bit of concentration and slow going in places but it did go on in the end.  Thankfully without the need of a stitch ripper.

As you can see I used red thread to highlight it a bit.

Not having another 2 of these FQ I struggled to find a contrasting 2 that I liked, so after auditioning a lot of fabric I decided to back the cushion in black needle cord fabric, logic was it probably is going to get a fair bit of use with children sitting on it on the floor or even in the garden so may as well have one hard wearing side.

How it has been left is smoothed out and pinned right sides together ready for my next hour I can sneak in to finish it, and while I consider the best way to finish this. Will update you in next day or two on how I finish the cushion off.

So until I can sneak off and sew again
Take care
Jules x

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Netflix and crochet

For years I have tried to get a grip on crochet.  I can do stitches no problem, then when it comes to putting them together in some fashion it just makes no sense to me. While we were in Great Yarmouth we found Woolcraft cakes in a craft shop, 200g of aran weight yarn. Decided to buy 2 and try again.  already had a crochet hook in my project bag I have for my knitting etc.

I have had this idea I wanted to do a corner to corner blanket/throw for the sofa. Someone suggested looking up Bella Coco on YouTube and it all made sense for once, I have watched this before though, so I spent a few hours getting this far while watching Netflix.

And it kept going pretty well.  This colour scheme isn't my usual kind of taste but the colours made me think of summer holidays so went with it.

After I got home I realised that the 2 balls alone were not going to make this big enough so ordered another 2 balls. Where I am now is one more row short of starting to decrease so halfway. 
I laid my work down to take a photo so of course I caught a cats attention.  I wonder if Bobbie thinks this is for her?

I tried to move her but i just got meowed at. So here you have a 14 month old kitty for size reference. It's not perfect by any means but I am loving the process and how it looks.

For now I will keep at this while I watch Netflix and will share again when I am finished.
Take care

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Sequin cushions equals a glitter bomb

A while ago Alex AKA as my lovely daughter in law and I were out shopping.  We usually go together to certain shops and it is pretty much a certainty the fabric shop and Lush shop will be involved. The fabric shop had this sequin fabric that has 2 colours that change as you rub it in either direction, they had many colours and Alex chose green/silver sequins and black velvet for the back of the cushions.  Today was the day I chose to make these cushion covers. I had heard sewing sequin fabric could be a nightmare and so could velvet. Only problem I had was the sequins after I cut out the square fronts turned into a glitter bomb!  The photo below shows the sequins that came off after cutting one square out. It still continued to drop part cut sequins everywhere afterwards. A pain but oh so pretty.

I realised when I got the fabric home that the fabric the sequins are sewn to is only a fine mesh. I took a sheet someone gave me as it had a hole in it and cut out squares the same size as the sequin squares.  I sewed them right sides together leaving a few inches gap to turn it all right sides out, then top stitched round the edges securing it and sewing the gap shut. 

 The velvet was cut in 2 pieces per cushion cover. each one about 2/3 in height as the front square and as wide as the sequin square. I finished the edges off with my serger, I could of used a zig zag stitch to do this to.  I then did one edge of each one with a double sewn edge for the edges that overlap each other as this is where the cushion will fit into the cushion cover.  I pinned the first one to the top.

And the other one to the other end so they overlapped.  Making an envelope cushion cover. I sewed round all 4 sides and turned right sides out.

Which left me with 3 cushion covers altogether. 2 ready to be re homed with Alex and my son Paul. I can see the pair of them having much fun writing sweet and rude things in these cushions. 

All in all I had no problems at all. I did a bit of reading up first and  cut the sequin fabric with the sequins facing down and used a denim needle in my sewing machine.  It seemed to have done the trick and I spent a lovely couple of hours with pretty sparkles everywhere.  I think it will be a while before they stop showing up. But you can never have enough glitter right?

Take care

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Chinese flovoured chicken in slow cooker or Instantpot

I've had an InstantPot now since last years Amazon Prime day and to be honest I have not used it half as much as I should do as keep thinking of it as just a pressure cooker but it does a lot more. So my latest trials with is using it's slow cooker function.  We were out yesterday morning so I wanted something that wouldn't take to long to cook in the afternoon.  I looked around at timings and then threw this in to the InstantPot

2 sliced carrots
2 peppers cut in chunks 1 red 1 green
small pack of baby corn cut into chunks
3 or 4 biggish spring onions cut up
1 small tin of water chestnuts drained
2 tablespoons Chinese 5 spice powder
1 tablespoon powdered coriander
pinch of chilli flakes
5 skinless boneless chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces
few garlic cloves chopped
tablespoon of ginger puree, could of used fresh but had puree in fridge
salt and pepper

toss all this together and cook for 4 hours

It came out looking a little less appetising.  Smelt so good though.  I took a teaspoon of cornflour and a few tablespoons of pineapple juice we had and blended together and then stirred through the chicken mixture in Pot on Saute function until it thickened.  I added a glug or two of dark soy sauce for seasoning and colour and it looked a lot better 

The chicken broke up a little, and I served it over noodles,  definitely a do again recipe as went well with all.

This could be done on high in a slow cooker to if you don't have an InstantPot.

And just because I took a photo today here's a picture of the back of the king Alfred statue from the park and ride bus in Winchester.

That's it for today.  We have the granddaughters visiting and lots of fun going on, well I hope all that noise equals fun ;-)

Take care 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Baking Ploughmans Tart

Anyone else been watching Nadiya's British Food Adventures on BBC2? I watched the first couple and bought the book that goes with the series. Last night I was up while the rest of the house was asleep and was watching the third in the series.  Nadiya made a 'Ploughmans Cheese and Pickle Tart' I knew last night today was going to be a baking day for this alone. I don't like pickle, there is no way I am eating that much cheese and pastry but the man in my life loves all these things so it just had to be done.

I am so kicking myself I didn't take a photo of the first disaster, and I was lucky it was the only disaster, where I lined the tart tin with pastry and chilled it, dropped in on my foot, then put it in the oven without blind baking it with baking paper and my baking beans.  By the time I realised, it had literally melted down sides of tin and was a mess. So whipped up some more short crust pastry and started again.  My only defence was my daughter was visiting and I wasn't paying enough attention to the instructions, to busy chatting. Apparently you can always tell when I am chatting according to the Mr. as my eyes will be open! And yet I still bake for him, I wonder why some days.

The basis of this Tart is pretty simple and only a few ingredients that we usually have on hand.
 Good strong cheddar, 
small chunk sandwich pickle, we used Branston Pickle
shortcrust pastry
and paprika for jazzing up your store bought pastry, I
I made my own pastry though

Once I read instructions properly and blind baked my pastry, I realised I had some serious side cracks in 2 places. I artfully spread out the layer of pickle and 'cemented' the cracks with a little of the pickle.  It worked so well and I only had minimal seepage and no soggy bottom.

Lots of good strong cheese went on top. I found a really lovely Wookey Hole strong cheddar and used that. 

I beat the eggs and added the milk up and mixed together.  Carefully poured over and carefully placed in the oven.  Nothing complicated and even I was impressed it was going well.

It came out of the oven with a very slight wobble. and looked and smelt amazing.

I think the hardest bit for me was waiting for it to reach just warm temperature before I sliced it open to see if the layers worked OK and to make someone eat some to get a verdict. It went down really well with even talk of eating the remainder for breakfast tomorrow. 

I'm impressed I still have the baking knack and am looking forward to trying more recipes out of this book.  Anyone else watching the series and planning on trying any of the recipes? 

Take care

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

August so far.

How is it August already? I swear I blinked and July just skipped by in that blink! In fact I am pretty sure I got short changed in July at some point time wise. Although there were some epic moments. There has been a lot of decorating planning going on lately, I saw this picture in B&Q, didn't buy it and should have as I love the sentiment.  

So far August has given us rain. I have spent a while trying to do some origami butterflies. This one is still the best one to date.  I never was much good with origami but I will keep trying I need 10 origami butterflies at least. Maybe some better instructions are needed?  Or perhaps I just need to not look at mine so closely.  Fiddly things never were my forte, but they are fun even if it is only laughing at my attempts at the end.

Last week I came across this fabric in Fabric Land. and knew I needed to make a Sorbetto top from it or a variation of it.  I have a few I have made before and wear them often.  I know there is a new updated version that offers more variations these days but I have yet to download and use them.  It's a free pattern if anyone wants to try it out.

This was how it turned out. I made an inverted (?) pleat down the front and left the bottom open instead of catching the bottom in the hem.  
I would say excuse the mess but it's a tiny room full of book cases and boxes and it really doesn't get much tidier on my bookcases as they are all overflowing. 

Here's a closer look of the front detail. 

I did a bias binding hem! I tried this before and read the instructions wrong and the bias binding was done like a bias bound quilt edge or similar, so was visible.  So I gave it a go on the hem and neck line today and it was so easy and neat.  This may be my new hemming method. This was the bottom hem.

I can tell I have made a few of these before due to fact it only took me an hour and 12 minutes! And that included cutting out the fabric.  I usually play an audio book while sewing so I know how long it took by that.

Here's the neck edge. Different colour bindings I know, I was left at the last moment remembering I needed bias binding and didn't have enough of either.  At least they were both colour coordinated though

I then decided to make some chilli cheese cornbread for the boys to go with dinner. Looked a bit unconvincing to me when it was being mixed up

Looked OK upon coming out of the oven

It was a bit to dry though but tastes ok apparently.  I tried a small bit and reminded me of the flavour of  macaroni cheese but a little wimpier.  Still it got a compliment from Luke and was eaten so I am happy with that outcome.  Been a pretty creative day today.

I was even a superhero whooooooooo, eldest sons car battery died so I went over to give him a jump start.  Drove home and he and his girlfriend had broke down again so went back out to find them and got them sorted and followed them to their destination.  All sorted now.

So for tonight I am ready for an early nights sleep and a good day tomorrow. First though a little family time TV and make plans for tomorrows adventures.

Take care