Monday, May 31, 2010

Falling in love with blogs again

As I'm temporarily between contracts I've more time on my hands and am finding some lovely blogs to read.  I know what will happen, I'll enjoy them and them when I'm back in work I won't have to time to keep up.  Until then though, how can I resist loveliness, tutorials, free patterns and the like? 

This morning's finds: My Measuring Tape and from there, UK lass in US

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Morsbagging tomorrow

Off to Oadby tomorrow to make morsbags in the library. 

I've got a car full of fabric to take with me, most of which has been donated by a fabric mill in Yorkshire.  This is a long term thing that morsbags has been involved in.  It's fabulous as it supports a lot of happy sew-ers (without the dash that looks like waste pipes!) but the most fascinating thing for me is how the morsbag hive mind organises the distribution of all this fabric around the country.  This set has travelled from Yorkshire to me via another bagger's husband who I met in a hotel car park to facilitate the transfer of bags and rolls of material. I'll be passing it on again tomorrow and who knows where it will go from there.  Lucky we're not doing anything dodgy, but it must have looked very odd

Friday, May 28, 2010

Quilt Update

As promised, I've now turned the strips into something a lot more like quilt blocks

I was concerned that I would have confused some of the lights and darks when assembing the strips.  Thankfully I haven't but the construction method did throw up three or four blocks from one strip where the difference between the two is too slight.  I'll have to think about what to do with these as I'm a bit ginger about ripping out and resewing so many bias seams.  Maybe I'll just have to sneak them in somewhere and make them a design feature?!

Now the fun begins, playing with pattern and contrast before they are all sewn together

Jelly roll quilt

Through Ravelry I got tempted back to quilting and am working on my first jelly roll quilt - a garden trellis design.

This morning it looked like this:

just long strips of fabric sewn together

I'm going to do a bit more decluttering then as a reward set to with my rotary cutter - hope it looks a lot more exciting after that!

I've used a roll from fabric freedom in a William Morris colourway.  I'm not totally sold on the whole jellyroll concept - it seems a bit like cheating getting all of the fabrics matched and the process becomes a bit more mechanical than I like.  Maybe that's just the design I chose though.  As for this particular roll - I had an odd number of strips and some of the strips aren't cut on grain or have been cut with pleats / folds in so they aren't straight edged.  I checked on Rav and someone else has had the same kind of problem with a moda roll, so at least I know it's not one manufacturer.

I'll update you on my progress later, off to get rid of some stuff first....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What's the story here?

I was intrigued by these furniture cups.  I love the illustrations and that there is such luxurious carpet on them, but what really got me was that they were made in Canada.  I can't see it being an obvious export, so for me the story is how the heck did these end up in a charity shop in Loughborough?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Full disclosure: I'm involved with BzzAgent who supply me with the opportunity to experience products or services that I then talk about with others.  There's no pressure to sell - they are more interested in honest opinions, so if you like the idea of it, you can sign up too

I've helped with a few campaigns through BzzAgent : Sacla pesto, Shell V power petrol, but my favourite was to sample and talk about Seeds of Change chocolate!  I've just been invited to join a campaign about Splenda.  Maybe they are telling me that my enjoyment of the chocolate is noticeable?

I don't take sugar in tea or coffee so I will be asking others to sample the sweetener, but I am looking forward to trying the granulated sweetener in baking.  I think that the knitting group will have to sample my wares and tell me their opinion

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Emergency clutter card

I like this idea - think I will have to print one out while I get used to getting rid.  A card with a number of salient questions on it to help with decluttering:

How long has it been since I used this?

Do I like it?

Does it work properly? Is it broken?

Do I have more of this kind of thing? How many do I need?

If I keep this, what will I get rid of to make room for it?

Can I locate this information somewhere else (probably on the internet) if I need it?



OK, the clutter in my house is sending me mad and quite frankly, at the moment I am so full of nervous energy / righteous anger I need to work it off somehow. So, I am taking up - is anyone else game?

I've started another blog, From clutter to tranquility to document the whole thing

Monday, May 24, 2010

Review: Dr. Hackenbush Gets a Job

I've been lucky recently, winning quite a few early reviewer copies of books through Librarything

Here's my first review - of Dr Hackenbush Gets a Job by Ginger Mayerson

Initially I found this book difficult to get into, but I'm glad I persisted as once I picked up the author's rhythm, the whole book flew. I became very involved in Dr H's life and found myself wishing that I knew a few like her in my life. I wanted to know what happened next in each chapter and the pages just kept turning.
I've deliberately left a few weeks between finishing the novel and writing my review so I can tell you what stuck in my mind. Dr H and her friends were well written - lively, appealing and well rounded characterisation abounded. I liked the descriptions of temping versus the world of entertainment - great contrast.
I found myself very distracted for a few chapters after spotting a spelling mistake as I wasn't sure if it was a sly joke - the Untied States of America..... and the very long descriptions of musical practice did nothing for me as a non musical person - they were just confusing and added nothing to my understanding of the character or plot. I found the political and AIDs polemics jarring against the lighthearted action of the novel. The points made were valid but I don't think they sat well within this setting.
I was convinced that this book was midway through a series and surprised that it is a first. I'm not sure that there was a key plot point in the story that the protagonist had to resolve, but the book served as a great introduction to the people involved and I would be very eager to read further novels with this cast of characters

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stew report

Brag time - the beef stew was super delicious.  I realised too late in the day that I was out of suet, so I made a cobbler topping.  I processed flour and butter together along with a little salt, then stirred in grated cheese.  Two eggs and milk were beaten together then added to the flour.  The resulting slightly sloppy mix was spooned on top in blobs and the pot taken out of the slow cooker and cooked in a medium oven for about 40 minutes.

By this time I was being driven mad by the lovely smell it was all making!  I checked about 30 mins into the cooking time and thought I had a sloppy greasy looking disaster on my hands.  10 mins later and ta daa - it looked lovely!

And tasted even better. 

Previously I've made a more scone like cobbler topping.  This one, with the additional egg and milk, made it a bit of a cross between a scone and a dumpling, with souffle overtones.  Everyone ate it, everyone enjoyed it, what more can I say?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Poor old slow cooker

What I didn't tell you about in the last post was the sorry state of the lid handle - someone used the pot and lid in the oven without checking, and let's just say it wasn't me!
Yep, that isn't a melted marshmallow....

Joy of Slow Cooking

I don't use my slow cooker as much as I should.  This morning I picked up some aberdeen angus beef cubes for a good price and solved my dinner problem (I was meant to think what we were having when I did the list / shopping last Thursday and failed miserably).

I browned the meat, put it in the pot (already on and heating up), sliced two carrots and fried / steamed them to soften.  Added them then cooked off some onion and garlic.  They went into the pot along with stock and herbs - including two bay leaves as we always play a game of who gets the lucky leaf in their dinner.  I grated a spud into there too as I hate chunks of spud in stews (a reason why I hate pasties too) but I love the way grated spud dissolves and makes the gravy thick and almost sticky.  When it gets nearer to dinnertime I'll make dumplings - I have to double the recipe and make lots of small ones as they are so popular in my household.

I should be pulling plaster off the bathroom wall.  I've stripped the wallpaper and found a section where the topcoat has blown off so it will have to come off and be redone.  I'm a bit scaredy cat about it to be truthful, but I suppose I will have to pull up my big girl pants and get on with it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Early knitting

I've started to go through the clutter in the spare room hoping to get rid of some things and clear enough to make it easy to redecorate.  I found the bags containing special baby clothes, including some of the first items I knitted and crocheted.   I could be critical of myself and look for the flaws, but I'm really impressed with how well made these are especially as I didn't have a clue what I was doing.  I just did it in my greenness and I think because I had watched my mum knit for many years, I had absorbed an awful lot.  I would say that my daughter isn't interested in the same way, but then again I wasn't until I was a bit older.  Like me at that age she's more into art and self expression and is tinkering around the edges of sewing.  Hopefully she is silently absorbing what I'm doing and getting the message that none of this stuff is difficult, it's fun and absorbing, can be exacting but in the end, when you get everything right or right enough, it's rewarding.

Not the blog post I thought it was going to be!

Anyhow, here are the items I made for my babies when I was pregnant:



I think I never got round to finishing the last one!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Microwave jam and sulky knitting

I was rummaging in the freezer yesterday and happily found a bag full of strawberries from last summer's picking frenzy.  I'd noticed the homemade jam stocks were running a bit low so it was a great opportunity to indulge.

I let the strawberries defrost, drained off the liquid (added to gin - made an OK drink but not as nice as the mojito I had later on) and combined the same weight of sugar with the berries (300g each).  I meant to leave that for an hour so the sugar would dissolve, but the combination of cocktail, Dodgeball and sulky knitting (DH's jumper is tight around the armholes so is in time out therefore I've cast on a February Baby Cardigan) led to it macerating overnight.  This morning I warmed the mixture on full in the microwave for 10 mins then reduced the power and checked a couple of times for setting point.  It got there after 10 minutes and made one amazingly fruit filled pot of jam.

I make jam both in a huge catering pot on the stove when I've loads of fruit - crab apples and plums, I'm looking at you here - and in the microwave when I want to play, want to preserve particularly fresh tastes or I've not so much fruit.  I've tried strawberry both ways and the microwave is definitely tastier.  I'm quite proud of my jams.  The only one I haven't liked was physalis jam - if I remade it I'd do it again as a jelly as all the tiny pips were horrendous.  Otherr than that I've tried strawberry, plum, crab apple jelly, elderberry jelly, marrow and lemon and mulled wine jelly - the last a try to recreate a red wine jelly I once bought from France and have never found since.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Memory Lane

Originally uploaded by lalheg
Memory lane - my auntie had this tea set and I adored it - I'm trying to stop myself buying such stuff and just enjoying the picture and memories instead

Monday, May 10, 2010


Originally uploaded by lalheg
This is one of two handcranks that now live in my house. My lovely MIL had a great time trying this one out - it's the same age as my FIL!

The tick tick of the mechanism is a lovely soothing sound - far more relaxing than the whirr of my Husqvarna.

The second handcrank is larger and 10 years older - made in 1923. It sews, but is in need of a bit of TLC, unlike this beauty that is working as it were made yesterday.