Sunday 31 August 2008

Season of Mists

Walking with the dog this morning I was met with mist and damp - a sure sign that Autumn is on its way. But I don't mind - I like autumn. There's none of the disappointment we get with a British summer - full of promise that never quite fulfils. Instead we know it will be misty, the leaves will turn to beautiful colours, the hedgerows will be full of fruits, there will will be bonfires - it is truely a "Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness." I can even put up with the spiders... almost!

(Picture from Google - I didn't have the camera with me this morning!)
And so with the feeling that autumn was on its way I took to the kitchen today to make an autumnal meal. Slow braised pork with fennel and shallots. The photograph does not make this look good but it smelled divine - almost good enough to make me eat meat!

But I don't, so Sam and I had a tart with red onions, butternut squash and tomatoes.

And we finished off with a seasonal apple and blackberry crumble with thick cream! I don't miss summer and salads!

Perhaps that is why when I did some embroidery on this felt made with my stash bag from Helen Suzanne...

Although it was meant to be a hot summer scene - the colours seem quite Autumnal!

Saturday 30 August 2008

Tomatoes or cookies?

This year I thought I would try growing plum tomatoes for a change. It has not exactly been a bumper crop. In fact so far this is it...

But I did think I might at least make a small salad to accompany my lunch. Turned my back for two minutes and some litle b****r has has eaten them!

Oh well... might as well have cookies instead. For years I tried various recipes for chocolate chip cookies but could never quite get that chewiness that makes a good cookie until I discovered these...

Chewy and chocolatey every time! Just in case you would like to try them:
Beat together 225g soft butter and 225g of soft brown sugar. Into this beat a round tablespoon of golden syrup, a teaspoon of vanilla essence and 1 large egg. Stir in 400g plain flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Finally stir in 200g chopped chocolate (I used toblerone this time).
Put well spaced blobs (approx a heaped tablespoon) onto greased baking trays and bake for about 12-14 minutes at 170 deg C. This makes about 24 large cookies... if you want to make half the recipe (why?) just half all the ingredients and use just the egg yolk.

Other good things today - Jenny has sent me several old copies of Embroidery magazine as a thank you for sending her one of the dressing up outfits. I certainly didn't expect anything for being able to get rid of my old stuff but it was very much appreciated. They totally fascinating so thank you Jenny - it was really kind of you! ( There are still several outfits left so if you already have one but would like another... just say so!)

And also today, although I received these fabrics quite a few days ago, they were so beautifully packaged I haven't been able to bring myself to open them until this afternoon. The Paper Lace (cue song?) is so beautiful!

But then so are the fabrics! A lovely selection by Anna Maria Horner and Heather Bailey from Sew Love Fabrics. Now I've just got to decide what to do with them!

Friday 29 August 2008

And then there were more

The next installment of my dressing up box give away - leave a comment if a small member of your family (or even a large member of your family) might like one of these and it will be first come first served (and that includes my prettiest blog reader too). Again all made by me and all freshly washed!

1. Zorro Cape

This is a semi circular cape (very dashing!) with the Zorro logo appliqued on the back. Mask, hat and sword never stood the test of time - well the sword was probably confiscated! I did say they were all freshly laundered but I never mentioned ironing....

2. Dracula Cape

Like the Zorro cape (not quite semi circular but still quite sweeping) but without the logo and with a red lining. Fangs not included!

3. Bee

This is really an over sized jumper made from stripey fun fur. Once upon a time it had net wings and a balaclava with antennae but they are sadly long gone. But I'm sure this has potential! One size fits all!

This is a "Ben Bee" looking for flowers!


There are two of these. The one above has stencilled moons and stars and the one modelled below has appliqued decorations which are starting to fall off and look a bit tired if I'm being honest. But in the right hands that could be fixed! Both come with battered wizard hats.

5. Daredevil
Had you fooled there...
Okay... I didn't quite manage the skin tight PVC effect modelled by Ben Affleck but Jacob rather liked his Daredevil costume!

And I was rather pleased with the mask which is now a bit tight on Jacob but he very gamely modelled!

This will probably fit a 7-8 year old or bigger but the arms and legs could be easily shortened.
And that's all folks... well it's not actually but it's the end of the giveaway because I can see this getting a bit tedious for all concerned!

Wednesday 27 August 2008

A Quick update...

to let you know that all the outfits except Father Christmas have gone to good homes. The BFG has gone to live in the Moogsmum house, Fred Locket will soon be Froggy Locket, Woody is going to Jenny's two little ones, Little Miss P1 will soon be little Miss Pumpkin and Aladdin has become an Dotty Arabian princess who will look beautiful I'm sure. Thank you for accepting my junk with such enthusiasm! Santa is still up for grabs and there will be more later in the week.

Meanwhile thank you so much Jane for passing on this super award to me. I love your blog and so many others too that as usual passing it on is an impossible task. But I shall pass it on with the dressing up outfits to all you lovely ladies listed above!

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Dressing up

After Joe's foray into the remains of our dressing up box to find pirate accessories I decided it was time to give it a thorough sort through and throw out. Then I had a bit of a brain wave...

But before I share my idea with you, first the results of some of my stitching into the felt. This was the piece I made as a background for a commissioned picture.

And this is the result after some free machining and applique.

I wasn't too sure about it at first but after the addition of the thistles I think I quite like it. I hope the recipient does too!

Anyway back to my brainwave... or really stupid idea depending on your viewpoint. After sorting through the dressing up clothes I realised that there were still about a dozen or so outfits that were still in relatively good condition despite their great age and it seemed a shame to throw them out. Then I thought of all you blogging friends out there who still have young children and it occured to me I could have a marathon giveaway... or off loading of my junk depending on your viewpoint!
So some rules...

1. I think I'm going to have to limit this to people in the UK only otherwise it will cost me an arm and leg in postage.
2. If you would like one of the outfits leave a comment stating which one (only one per person.)
3. First come first served because with so much stuff to giveaway I can't be doing with drawing names from hats.
4. If this proves popular I'll put some more up later in the week.

And now the outfits - all of which have been made by me and all have been laundered this weekend!:

1. The BFG
Okay, this first one is not really an outfit but just a big black cape with a hood and a snazzy waistcoat but Jacob wore it to book week as the BFG and was very happy with the way he looked! Will fit a 5-6 year old

2. Father Christmas
This comes without the beard but consists of jacket, hat, trousers and belt. Will probably fit a 7-8 year old

3. Aladdin
Hat, waistcoat and trousers (magic lamp not included) modelled by Joe. Another book week success! Will fit a 5-6 year old

4. Jack o' Lantern
There are two of these but due to their great age only one has survived intact, the slightly smaller of the two. Sam was only 2 here but I think it would fit a child up to about 5 -6. The black jumpers and trousers are not included. This was Ben and Sam about to go Trick or Treating in America about 22 years ago!

5. Frog
This consists of a very silly hat and green trousers and jumper (probably fit a 5-6 year old)

I couldn't find a picture of any of the boys wearing this so Joe very gamely demonstated how to wear the hat - also proving that the hat will fit a 19 year old!

6. Woody
This is Woody from Toy Story - again I couldn't find the photo but I think it will fit a 4-5 year old. It comes without a hat - our cowboy hats haven't stood the test of time. Just remembered it doesn't have a sherrif badge either because I made a large version of this a couple of years ago for Ben and he had the badge.

Leave a comment if you want one... or to tell me is was a silly idea!

Friday 22 August 2008

A Flurry of activity

Browsing favourite blogs this week I noticed Helen Suzanne had put some little stash bags of goodies in her etsy shop - including some of her hand made felts, lovely fibres and other treasures. Being a fan of her work this seemed too good to miss so I treated myself... and what a treat it was when this little lot arrived in the post!

I was immediately inspired to use some of the fibres and make some felt of my own - out came the bubble wrap, hot water and soap...

and after some vigorous rolling and bashing... some felt. I was planning to stitch into this but got a little sidetracked...

and decided to make a felt background for a commission I've got to work on. I was planning to start stitching on this too but then I got completely carried away...

and I made some red cobweb felt...

and some blue felt....

which looked fabulous in the sunshine (yes... sunshine!!!) while it was hanging out to dry.

And finally some green felt too!

The plan is to stitch into all of these pieces eventually so I might have something to show next week. And lest you think this is turning into some kind of craft blog, there has been baking too.

Apple and cinnamon muffins

for breakfast.

And I make no apologies for another Nigel Slater recipe,
frosted marmalade cake...

for afternoon tea.

And the reason for this flurry of activity - I got the first draft of my Opus essay handed in on Tuesday, had a tutorial last night and apart from some minor tweaking it is finished! Two weeks before assessment day... Yippee! Expect to see some more flurrying in the next couple of weeks!
Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday 21 August 2008

I've caught a bug

I think I first picked it up here....

when it was a small germ of an idea.

It definitely got worse here...

and by the time I got here I knew I could resist no longer.

Not a nasty bug you understand...

but a "Rippling" bug!

There is a long way to go before this can pass as a blanket but I love the way I can pick it up and put it down. It doesn't matter if I do two stitches or two rows, I don't lose my place. And it grows so quickly. And as Jane points out there are advantages to rippling because it's the perfect excuse to eat Ripple chocolate...

Oh yes... I definitely like rippling. You could say ... I'm hooked! (sorry!)

(Note the subtle colour change due to camera battery failing and having to resort to a back up. This is probably the truer colour!)

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Pirates and Poppies

This week there is another festival.
This was has nothing to do with quilts.
But lots to do with beer and tents.

Joe is off to the Reading Festival today, dressed as a pirate! I'm not sure why but it's something to do with be allowed to sit in the front of the car on the way down - I didn't enquire too deeply. Lucky we still have the contents of the dressing up box still lurking in a bag at the back of the garage. Notice he has given up asking me to repair rips in his clothes though.

I'm having a fun day making some samples for a new piece work but I can't show you because I'm hoping it will end up in a show in the new year. Instead I'll show you someone elses work. A few weeks ago Judy admired a photograph of some poppies that I had posted here and wondered if they might grow in Scotland. We had a conversation and as a result I sent her a packet of seeds from my poppies - not a lot of effort on my part. So imagine my surprise and delight when a parcel arrived fom Judy containing this beautiful felt embroidery.

And this fabulous felt brooch - which will be perfect on my winter coat. Thank you Judy - it was most unexpected and very generous. I love them both!

While I'm saying thank you there is another overdue thanks to go to Celia, who sent me this little parcel a few weeks ago...

Containing some fun badges

And a couple of her beautiful printed cards
for guessing that the strange objects on her blog were walnuts.
I love the print of the chicken.

Before I go a recommendation. Last night a friend and I went to see Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. It was a great film that felt like it belonged to another era with fabulous music and wonderful costumes. Very gentle, very English but with an edgy sense of humour. I'm off to order the book from Persephone Books I enjoyed it so much.