Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Flight of the Bumble Bee

I've been busy today finishing off the batch of bees ready to go into the Beehive pattern.  They look like a squadron ready for action!

It was all quiet in the house this morning.  Will was off on a bike ride before going to a BBQ/F1 session at one of his friends.  

John is nursing a bad back and has been applying ice packs since last Thursday night.  I suppose he works in the right place to have a bad back (Shield Clinic in Gosforth) but since his work is very physical a lot of the time, he needs to keep fit and well.  Luckily he works his hours over four days so he has had three days to recover.

Steph (38 weeks) had a restful morning after a midnight 'practice' run to the RVI in Newcastle.  She had better not have this baby on a match day otherwise we will have to plough a few football fans down to get to the Maternity Unit.  This is her with her 38 week bun and a freshly baked bun balancing on top.  There were lots more but you know what they say about hot cakes. I, of course, did not indulge....

....I have had a good first week on the diet (I always do) and my journal now has a complete first page.  I spent more time than I should doing the page for week two but I really enjoyed myself.  I have decided to have a road travelling across each page - hopefully most of the footprints will all face the right way.  There will be times when things don't go according to plan but, after all, it's not the mistakes you make, but the lessons you learn from them that counts.  Each night when I come in from work I just put a little thought in the journal - sometimes there is little activity in the brain, so not every night has a comment.

Work was a roller-coaster this week, as expected.  Network down and up, phones on and off, electric cables over heating and a whole new year group trying to find their way round a strange school.  I decided to go with the flow instead of trying to brace myself against the twists and turns.  This seemed to work for me.  That and the haircut on Friday night - it comes with a head massage which is guaranteed to soothe the raggiest nerves.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

More beehives

I'm having a bit of a beehive interlude.  I don't know why they seem so comforting and homey but I love to include them in my work.  Bees are such lovely creatures too.  They only live about sixty days on average but what a lot of work they do in their little lives!  The latest beehive is a tag to put on the key-ring for the back door to stop certain sons putting the key in their pocket and forgetting to hang them back up. (Are your ears burning John?)

Why make one when you can make two?  I didn't think it out too well though because I couldn't find a key ring to fit the hole so I had to put a little extender on it.

I've been working on the Cosy Autumn Swap so I can't post too many pictures this week.  I have, however, been prepping a little book which will be my weight loss journal.  

I've just painted a background colour on the pages - a double spread for each week.  I've struggled with my weight for ages and I'm so sick of feeling naff that I am doubly determined to succeed.  John found an offer on Groupon for the Biggest Loser Club and tomorrow is my first day.  Each week I'll complete my journal page.  The challenge is for eight weeks but I know that there is a lot longer to go.  I'm hoping my journal will help me to succeed where I have failed before.  Cooking is such a huge part of my life and I know it won't be easy.

We collected two hens last week.  Some marauding hens got in to my garden a little while ago and we lost two hens over the past month or so.  It may have been co-incidence and I know that animals do just turn their toes up without reason.  I lived on a farm long enough to understand that, but it's still very sad.  The new ladies are a White Leghorn and a Columbine.  They are a bit flighty at the moment so I'll post some pictures when they have settled in.

I have just finished reading 'Out of Time" by Deborah Truscott - a gentle story.  I need to search for something that doesn't make me cry this time (not giving away whether they were sad, happy or wistful tears though).  I like a gentle story as I read for about half an hour before I go to sleep.  

Well I'm going to check I have everything ready for work tomorrow before I settle down to a bit of knitting.  I got my warm jumpers out last week but it looks like I'll have to put them away again.  Hey ho!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Keep on Buzzing

Have just given Sandra her Beehive Tea Cosy so I can now post a picture.  I didn't want her to see it before I gave it to her because it was part of her birthday present.  

6oz wadding makes it extra plumptious but it needed the walking foot to help it through the machine.

A close-up of the bee and honeycomb flower.

I've been writing the pattern for this over the Summer Break.  David cut me some bees and there will be a hand-painted bee included in each pattern. There will be some patterns available at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party (all proceeds to Macmillan).  Click on the link on the right for details and do come along to the Crafts House to support this - it will be great fun.

It's raining outside and I'm going to snuggle up under a quilt (August Bank Holiday weekend - really?) and do some knitting this afternoon although I can feel a bit of a snooze coming on.  I shouldn't waste good crafting time snoozing but sometimes your eyes just get too heavy don't they?

Later I will be continuing with some goodies for the Autumn Craft swap which I'm thoroughly enjoying - I'll put pictures up after I've sent them off just in case Anne peeks!  I'll also be putting the finishing touches to some Mavis and Gladys things ready for the first class on 24th September which is also Steph's due date!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Oh no - spending again!

I was craving a bit of peace and quiet this morning so I decided to go up to Stichin' Heaven on the 697 for a browse (I'm kidding - I wanted to get some fabric).  I spent a bit more time on my own in the car than I expected because there had been a crash on the Southbound side of the A1 and everyone was slowing down to have a look.  Strange things aren't we?  It took an hour to cover seven miles.  

Anyhoo I arrived at the shop and picked up some lovely country purples and golds that I REALLY needed.  Then, as it was well gone lunch time by then I decided to call in at the Milkhope Centre at Blagdon for a spot of lunch.  Mmm, ham and cheese flan with salad and a delicious mug of coffee.  Of course it would have been rude to leave without having a quick peep in the Pine and Cane shop.  Lo and behold they had a little milk jug that I had been looking for since my friend gave me a mug a couple of birthdays ago. Joy!  By the time I had called in to the farm shop for a piece of beef so our Sunday lunch I was feeling rather spent up.

Oh and the postman delivered the Sizzix dies I had ordered last week.  I better check my bank balance to make sure I can get the shopping in for this 5 week month.

I put my name down to the the Cosy Autumn Swap at Blueberry Hearts .  I'm teamed up with Anne at Marmalade and Catmint and I'm really looking forward to it.  I'm a swap virgin and am childishly excited at the prospect of a) having an excuse to make something and b) getting pressies in the post when it's not my birthday!  

I have already sorted a couple of items so I will be getting my head down very happily this weekend for the other things.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Umami and other pleasures

When I was at school we were taught that there were 4 flavour groups the tongue could distinguish - sweet, salty, sour and bitter.  Not so many years ago I discovered that there was a fifth distinct taste - umami.  It was actually identified over a hundred years ago but I didn't know that the flavours I love (marmite, mushrooms, anchovies, worcester sauce, soy sauce to name a few) had a name.  

My mother had the same experience when she was younger.  One evening, when we were visiting my uncle and aunt, she confessed that she didn't know what an orgasm was until she was more than thirty years old.  My father looked crestfallen.  When she saw the look on his face she assured the assembled company, much to the embarrassment of my brothers, cousins and I, that she knew what it felt like, she just didn't know the word.

Language is a wonderful thing.  My father, physicist though he was, loved English Literature.  His shelves were full of books ranging from Shakespeare's sonnets to particle physics and he never lost an opportunity to slip a new word into a conversation, even apparently when we were babies.  Thanks to my mother though I learned the meaning of such words as abstruse and verbose at a very young age.

Not knowing words doesn't mean that you haven't experienced their meaning at some point in your life, but knowing how to express the subtle nuances of meaning certainly gives me pleasure.

Tescos (according to myth £1 in every £7 you spend is at Tescos) sell the pleasure of Umami in a bottle:

What I would like to know is - when are they going to bottle the other thing?

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Baba Ganoush and Baby Blocks

Ta dahhh!  The Baby Blocks (Tumbling Blocks) quilt is ready for action!  I had a lovely day today, painting in the morning - a good natter with everyone. Great to see David has passed his exams and got a place at Uni on his 18th birthday, congrats David.  I also came home with a lovely new stamp and some mini pegs with beehives on them and it's not even my birthday.  Thanks Sandra.  

When I got home all was peace - Will was out on his bike, John was at rugby training and Steph was in Newcastle.  Despite the heat I decided to crack on with the last session on the Baby Quilt.  Even though the rest of the quilt was hand stitched I decided to machine the binding because it makes a much better edge and saves my poor finger tips.  Here it is:

The colours are not showing up very well - it's blue and white not blue and light blue.  I hand-stitched the binding to the back of the quilt and then fell asleep! Not a very good idea when it is so warm. I've loved doing this in the simple colour-way but may start a little ongoing project using colour values which I think will make a very interesting pattern.  Next on the list for the baby is the strippy quilt and a little knitted blanket to keep him cosy when the cold weather comes.

Last night we had baba ganoush (aubergine puree).  I charred the skins over the gas and then baked the aubergines until they were tender -

These are the other ingredients although I only used half the chilli -

So simple - just mish everything together and serve with whatever is in the salad box.  The garlic was a bit powerful though as it is not cooked but there were no vampires within a hundred miles last night!

I absolutely love having lettuce leaves with dip, don't know why but they just taste good, especially the soft leaves.  This was a butterhead lettuce, cheaper than chips! 

We had crispy chicken tonight with desiree potato wedges and cabbage stir fried with a little bit of bacon and cream but we were all so hungry we ate it all up before I could take any pix!  The crispy crust was made with breadcrumbs and polenta mixed with a little grated parmesan and some chopped lemon thyme and loads of freshly ground black pepper.  The polenta makes the coating extra crispy.  My brother sprinkles it over roast potatoes - mmm.

I'm back to work on Monday getting ready for the GCSE results next week. I've enjoyed my two week break even though I haven't crossed much off my to-do list.  The days aren't so long in the holidays so I'll have few more essential jobs and projects done before the kiddlywinks return to school in September.  I've nearly finished Sandra's guinea pig.... more on this next week.

So a bit of prep work tomorrow and back to the day job - I've enjoyed the extra time to paint, quilt, blog and share recipes.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Quilts, bumps and another salad

The 12 rows of the tumbling blocks are done and ready for the borders. First I trimmed the extra bits to make a straight edge along the top and bottom.

Now it is ready for the borders. 

I was going to use one of the three fabrics from the blocks but they didn't really go because all three touched the inner border at some point and made the pattern 'float' out. So Steph, her bump and I decided to go to the Cotton Tree, have a bite of lunch, and choose some inner border. 

We chose the inner border but the cafe was closed (boo hoo) so we went to the garden centre across the road. 

We came home via Mothercare and Mamas and Papas.....  How much??? Luckily they have been given a lot of things for the baby but I'm pretty shocked at the cost of things - and the amount of things those kind multi-national firms think that people 'need' for their children.

Tea tonight?  Another salad. 

Lovely fresh (bag of) leaves together with roasted butternut squash, a bit of crispy bacon, some feta and a sauteed baked potato (left over from yesterday's tea but not normally part of this recipe).  It should have had pine nuts but when I got there the cupboard was bare.  

John turned up with a bottle of bucks fizz (£2 Aldi) and a tin of rice pudding. Dined like kings we did.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Button up!

It's all quiet in the house while the babies (24 and 26) sleep.  I am going to have a little session with the tumbling blocks before breakfast - I'm on row ten of twelve now. Hopefully I will be able to get the borders on and sandwich it ready to quilt, maybe not today but tomorrow should do it. Tumbling blocks are quicker to quilt than to piece so that's one of my to-do list that looks achievable.

This week I have been enjoying a bit of button therapy:

I think I'll make some cards with the little hens.  The watermelons may very well feature in a summer wall-hanging at some point - I'm thinking around a picnic theme and the bees are all part of the guinea-pig project.  All will be revealed soon.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Basking in the sun

This morning was taken up with giving the blog a bit of a face-lift.  It's a work in progress at the moment.  I have a guilt complex because it is so sunny and warm at the moment and I shouldn't be sitting indoors.  I don't like squinting in the bright sunshine and I don't like being too warm, but there was a bit of a breeze and I do need some help with the Vitamin D so I found some shade and took my little table outside.  I am working on some hexagons for a project so I took a break from the tumbling blocks.  I love the crispness of the blue and white but my soul craves deep rich colours.  

I am actually going to change the design slightly for this project (Sandra is going to be my guinea pig), so the hexagons will feature in a modified format - but more of this later.

The breeze was wafting the scents from my little herb garden.  I have some lovely pineapple sage and quite a few different thymes as well as rosemary and bay.  The  marjoram is in full frothy flower at the moment:

The lemon thyme next to it has finished but it was lovely being able to decorate dishes with the fragrant flowers.  There are a few blueberries lurking on the bush in the foreground which I have earmarked for blueberry muffins.

A  bumblebee hovered around the flowers for about half an hour.  He disappeared and came back with some friends.  I took some pictures but the camera is not good for close-ups. However I got some overtime for some weekend work we did in July so I am going to treat myself to a camera that will be able to take close up photographs with much sharper detail.  I used to have a fabulous camera back in the day when you had to load film in.  I have a picture of Will (number one son) on the beach - the picture is so sharp you can see the separate grains of sand on his fingers.

Well I'm going to sew some more tumbling blocks tonight and maybe cut the fabric for a baby strippy quilt, but not before I tuck into the pizza which John has just brought in!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A salad for all seasons

I love raw food.  Not because it's quick to prepare although that is a distinct advantage when you're late home, hungry and tired.  I love it because I feel better when I've eaten it.  You can't always say that about food.  Well I can't because sometimes I eat rubbish. I always regret it but there's something in your brain that craves the sugar, or the salt or the fat and I'm not very strong willed - quick gratification nearly always lead to long term regret. I love salads of nearly every description and this one never fails me, winter or summer.

Gathering the ingredients for today's version:

New potatoes
Chorizo (it's usually smokey bacon)
Gruyere Cheese
Romaine lettuce
Avocado pear (rare addition)
lemon and oil dressing

I decided to dry fry some pumpkin seeds for texture.  They swell up and are slightly nutty when fried.

Assembled and ready to eat in less than 15 minutes (that includes cooking the potatoes).  A small glass of merlot and a few shavings of parmesan over the top finish the dish perfectly. Light enough for summer and satisfying enough for winter.  Each bite has a nugget of flavour and you can choose your favourite ingredients  for a an infinite variety.  I had one with 'gesiers' instead of cheese and bacon but I'm not sure what they are and not sure I want to know!  They tasted good though.

New Season Mavis and Gladys

If you click on the Mavis and Gladys tab you will see the plan of the next few classes.  We're really looking forward to continuing the journey with the 'bees'.  No surprise that the first block of the month will be a Tumbling Block.  It's always better to have a made up sample of a block - even better if it can be in a quilt.  Pictures really don't do any quilt justice.  I'm busy working on a Cot Quilt for John and Steph's baby at the moment - it is due the same day as the class so I may not have it with me after all!  

There are different ways to build up the tumbling blocks quilt.  If you're not sure of the final orientation of the blocks it is best to make them up separately and then sew them together.  It is much quicker (not to mention more thrifty with the thread) to build up the quilt in rows.  This is how my quilt is coming together:

I have left the bunny ears on the edge to show how they are sewn on.  I trim the sides as I go.  The top and bottom are not trimmed until I'm ready to put the inner border on. 

I haven't crossed too much off my to do list (with the exception of sitting staring into space) but I feel much refreshed and the house is a bit tidier.  I'm staying at home this afternoon waiting for a delivery so I'll be sewing more blocks.  First though I'm going to iron and then finish the little charms I got at Sandra's on Saturday.

Tonight for tea we will be having Salad Paysanne.  I first had this in France on a camping holiday when the boys were small.  (When we went there was only one pool - the smallest one in the picture if you click on the link)  The salad has new potatoes, cubes of gruyere cheese and little pieces of smoky bacon in it.  You can add other things like chopped up de-seeded tomatoes, or maybe some toasted sweetcorn, but the base must be a good crispy lettuce (not, heaven forfend, the ubiquitous iceberg).  It's mixed up and well dressed  - not like the plates of separate, naked salad items that you get in this country - no grated carrot or watery cucumber.  I'll take a pic tonight.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Yipee! Let the holiday begin!

I have two weeks and one day of wonderful holiday. No foreign trips, just me at home doing what I love.  Work has been a long hard slog for months now. We are having an £8m refurbishment at school and we have had to 'decant' into half of the building.  Getting up at 6am and coming home after 9pm is not quite how I would want to spend my time.  However, the move is done, the school is closed for two weeks and the builders have moved in.  It will be nearly two years and a few more moves before our building is complete but for now the quilt lamp has been lit.  I started my break with a cup of builder's tea and a scone and then I prepared my sewing:

This is my must-complete project for the summer (well before 24th September to be in time for the 'special' event).  I love tumbling blocks. Sometimes I piece them in rows and sometimes in blocks as above.  I always iron my blocks as I piece - it's personal preference of course - I use a dry iron and press straight down.  No steam until the final press and then only a little. Turning the seams makes for a nice flat finish and suits my sense of order. Order is my blankie in times of stress.

I have a long list of things I want to do (or should do - like decorate the hall) but I know I probably won't get through everything.  I am, however, determined to make the most of the time I'm at home because I've felt like I've been wading through treacle lately.  I will also make sure I have time to stand and stare, I'm good at that!

For now I'm just off to make some scrambled eggs on toast for tea and then I'll be back stitching and listening to the Olympics.  Mmm - holidays.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Midsummer's Day - really?

Today is Midsummer's Day.  Most people think that the 21st June is Midsummer, but it isn't, it's the Longest Day - a different thing altogether.  I know this because today is my birthday.  Now I'm not a great fan of the huge celebrations and I really don't like people to rush out and buy presents or cards.  I just like peace and quiet. John made cherry pancakes with nectarine sauce and a lovely pot of Machu Piccu coffee for breakfast.  I got some lovely presents from family and friends and have had a day mooching about doing something or nothing because,  despite today's name Summer hasn't arrived in this corner of the land yet. Look at my lovely card made by Alison.
I'm quite shy - at work they make a big fuss of everyone's birthdays - hugs and kisses, presents, 'happy birthday to you' at full volume. They didn't realise how uncomfortable that was for me.  They are very discreet now though and I found a lovely bouquet of flowers on my desk when I went in on Friday.  I'm very affectionate but maybe not that demonstrative.   When John and Steph lived down in Cambridge she couldn't understand why he never gave me a kiss goodbye.  She probably didn't even notice but when we say goodbye I touch his arm.  For me the giving and accepting of that touch has a far deeper meaning than hugs and kisses - people don't notice because it is so quick.

I've been sewing a bit of the mystery quilt this afternoon - here's a sneak preview:

Tomorrow it's the Quilting Bee at the Crafts House and the final part of the quillow instructions are all ready.  If anyone wants to bring their UFOs (unfinished objects) to class we can get on with those, but we also have a little bonus project - another technique to learn, so just turn up with a few scraps of fabric if you want.  We will be revealing the finished quillow and going through a couple of ways of putting it together but for now I'm going to leave the room because there is a box of choccies with my name on it and I'm trying not to wolf them down in one go!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Every quilt tested

I have just put the finishing stitches into Quillow Number 1 - there may be a few tweaks to the final part of the instructions because the envelope to put an extra piece of wadding didn't quite go to plan but hey ho!

This is the quilt inside its pillow.  I put a double piece of 6oz wadding into the cushion (I hate touching polyester wadding when I've been quilting because it catches on my rough finger tips).  I might try to quilt it into the block on Quillow Number Two but I've never tried to quilt something so thick. 

It's been a long day today.  We had no bread this morning so I decided to make a loaf before everyone got up - kneading gets your blood pumping for sure.  Actually I think it must be one of the nicest ways to start the day if you have the time.

Before and after!!  Trouble is it doesn't last too long once the gannets land. And of course you have to put lashings of butter on....

We actually went out to the farm shop to get some meat and ended up having a coffee and a bacon sandwich so there's enough bread left for breakfast tomorrow.  I love toast made from home baked bread because it has a bit of body to it - it doesn't shatter into shards or leave sawdust crumbs.

I have taken lots of pictures of the construction of the quillow because it is almost impossible to explain without pictures.  If the Governors' Meeting tomorrow doesn't go on too late (I've been there at 10pm a few times), then I will try to publish them when I get home.

For now though I am going to finish my quilt in the way I finish all the others I have ever made.  I have a little snooze under them.  Every quilt is tested by the management!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Quilting the quillow has started!

It's just gone seven and all is quiet.  Soon I'm going to have a cup of coffee and a cinnamon and raisin bagel. One of my weekend luxuries is making the start of the day topsy turvey.  Normally I get up, have a shower, make breakfast and load or unload a machine (washing, dishes etc).  Then I listen to the news, get dressed and then out to work by 7.20am.  At the weekend I still get up at 6am but I come downstairs and indulge myself with whatever project I'm working on. Then after about an hour I make something to eat. After that I go and have my shower.  It's saying to myself "You can get ready when you feel like it - or stay in your jammies all day if you want." (Ultimate luxury)

Today I'll be mainly quilting.  My aim is to finish one of my quillows to show how it is all put together at the next Mavis and Gladys session.  I did two blocks yesterday after returning from painting on the hill.

Ahh - the little strawberry hen has some legs! Knobbly knees!!  Painting on Saturday morning is the best way to start the weekend.  I go in stressed and come out chilled - who could ask for more?  When I eventually get a camera that is better designed for close up work you may be able to see more detail on the pictures.  The hen has little pips painted with a dotty tool - first some inky dots for the shadows and then some dark antique gold for the pips. Unfortunately no camera on earth will be able to compensate for my lack of photography skills....

Alison and I went to Dainty Supplies where I bought some 6oz polyester wadding to make some padding for my cushions.  The welcome cushion I made this week is 21" x 17" so I have folded some 6oz wadding to use as a cushion pad.  Think I might put another layer though - it's a bit skinny.  I'll be using some more to pad out the quillow cushion.  (It'll be constructed a bit like a pillow case so you can take the cushion pad out before washing - cushions never come out the same shape when they've been washed do they?).  I've loved doing the stitchery on the Welcome cushion.  The fabric is painted with my acrylics but with the addition of some fabric painting medium to keep the paint flexible.  It's very effective.  The design is then outlined with back stitch.  In this case I've used green around the letters and the elements of the letters (the carrot and the beehive).  The other bits are darker shades of the paint colours.  I've done a few cushions like this and they wear quite well although I do tend to keep them away from the chairs where the boys sit.

During the week (it's half term so I am a bit more flexible with my time at work), I went to Whitley Bay to visit my lovely and talented friend Barbara at Ring-a-Rosie.  I bought some backing fabric for the quillows and lo! and behold! only three fat quarters managed to find their way into my purchases! I must be getting strict in my old age.  Barbara still keeps some fabrics despite being mainly wool (and what wool!). These are new fabrics - Primitive Gatherings -

Stars and pumpkins on rich deep autumn colours - heaven!

I have only small amounts of housework on my list today as I've been keeping on top of everything during the week so I can quilt until my fingers can take no more. Oh and watch the Canadian Grand Prix too.  Multi-tasking Gladys style!

Monday, 4 June 2012

My pips are upside down

I'm having a wonderful break, painting, sewing, listening to my newest audiobook (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). I didn't see the film but I'm really enjoying the book.  I love curling up on the sofa with a bit of stitching and listening to a good story.  I've been painting a cushion.  I bought the pattern at Stitchin' Heaven - I'd forgotton how much I enjoyed painting on fabric.  Actually I should be doing my own designing of this kind of thing but I loved the pattern so much I couldn't resist.

The original pattern was shaded with a crayon but the paint gives a much stronger colour.  I just chose the ones I liked.  Then I riffled through my fabric collection (always a pleasure)and picked out a green and a toastie pumpkin colour which had most of the other colours in their patterns.  I'm happily backstitching around the design now.  I'll have it finished tomorrow and ready to make into a cushion.  The weather outside is rather nice if not really hot and I should be out in the garden, but the pull of the threads is too strong.

Yesterday I finished off my giant cotton reel which is ready to send down to my friend for her birthday.  She is a keen gardener so I reckoned this was a nice holder for her twine.  Thanks again to Sandra for her Shape of the Month.

Talking about Shapes of the Month - June's is a semi-circle.  I loved Sandra's design for the watermelon, I was painting this very early yesterday morning as the house slumbered.  I was awake enough to note that I should make sure I put the pips the right way round but not awake enough to actually do it!

Hey ho!  So then I started on the hen.  Mine is a Strawberry Hen but it is waiting for its legs.  I haven't got a drill small enough so they will have to wait for their finishing touches until Saturday.

I think I'll have a little break from sewing (I've had to start wearing my thimble pad because the needle has done what comes naturally and I have a hole in my finger - really big ouch there).  We have pizza planned for tonight so I'll go and knead some dough and then I'll have to answer the siren call of the threads.  And my pips?  They'll just have to stay upside down.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A recipe for Karen

We had Tiffin and Lime Marscapone Cheesecake at our Quilting Bee last Monday and Karen asked for the recipe.  Apart from cake baking, which I consider a science as much as an art, I don't use recipes as such.  I have loads of recipe books which I love reading, but when it comes to making things though I quite often just chuck things into a bowl.  Sometimes they come out well and sometimes they don't.  The tiffin is made with a bar of chocolate, some crushed biscuits and whatever dried fruit or nuts are in the cupboard.  If it is a bit dry when I'm mixing it I put some melted butter in.  We had fig and hazelnuts in the bars above.  Maybe about 100g each of fruit and nuts to 200g of bikkies.

The cheesecake is a bit more ordered -

200g ginger biscuits, crushed
50g melted butter
Mix these together and press into a loose bottomed cake tin or a flan dish.  The smaller the dish the deeper the cheesecake.

2 x 250g tubs of marscapone
50g sugar (icing is best because it dissolves quickly - you may need to add more if the limes are large and juicy, but you have to wait for granulated to dissolve or you end up making it too sweet!)
juice and finely grated zest of 2 limes

Save a little of the grated rind for decoration then mix the marscapone, sugar, juice and zest together.  Taste and add more sugar if you like.  Spoon over the biscuit base, smooth out and chill until firm - maybe a couple of hours.  Decorate with remaining zest.  So simple and good for hot days when you don't want to put the cooker on.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Put your shades on before viewing

I've been making the front of the quillow this weekend and cutting the sashing for the quilt bit.  I knew it would be bright but I didn't think it would carry a health warning!  If it were edible you wouldn't want to give it to children under 12.  I've been making two - a bit of tweedledee and tweedledum.  One is to show the finished block and one is to show the construction.  We did the last of the nine patches for the quilt at April's class.  I hadn't done two Dresden Plate blocks for some reason, so I did that first.  I don't think Leonardo Da Vinci would be too impressed with my centre circle though.

My beloved Thirties prints aren't everyone's cup of tea!

Then I started on the block for the cushion.  We started our first class with a nine patch and we are going to finish with a nine patch - only it's a bit more advanced!  The Card Trick is a lovely block, using half and quarter square triangles. You need to be very accurate or your points don't match and the effect is spoilt.

Pinned and ready to sew

Just to prove it IS a Nine-Patch

Accurate piecing is essential

Marking the borders

Ready to sandwich the cushion front
The other quilt is not quite a reverse of the this one and it is very busy and bright.  The Dresden Plate above belongs to the other twin.  The one shown above has dark jade green backgrounds and is a bit easier on the eye.

I've loved doing this project.  This afternoon I am going to sit and mark the sashing for both quilts and make the Card Trick Block for the second quilt.

I know it seems a lot of fuss to hand sew and mark every seam but for me every part is a relaxation.  If I want to make a quilt quickly I just get the machine out and put my foot down.  

If I get time I'll start the next part of the mystery quilt.  I made this a long time ago as a mystery quilt for some of my friends.  Alison and I already have made two each - probably about fifteen years ago but these are slightly different.  We couldn't find the instructions for some of the parts so had to make them up again.

I have a list of about a dozen things to do this Bank Holiday weekend and I think I've ticked four or five. I'm totally chilled out though and that wasn't even on my list.

There's an enormous pile of fabric that needs to be tidied and put away before the end of the day and a teetering basket full of ironing but it's only 10am and there's a stack of little triangles waiting in anticipation.  Iron or sew?  No contest.