Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas treats

Yesterday I made a snow-topped spice cake in accordance with family tradition:

And I made some mince pies, which are eaten traditionally in the UK at christmas:

I also wrapped up rather a lot of presents, eight of which were hand-made. :-D

I decanted the blackberry vodka into bottles - one to give away (full) and one for us (not quite full). Nigella suggests whipping some cream and folding the leftover vodka-soaked blackberries into a simple fool dessert. That will be strictly for the over-18s, though!

Yesterday evening, dh and I thought we should sample it, and both of us agreed it was excellent.

Sending holiday greetings to all my readers. See you after the festivities!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Healthy eating

Yesterday we had an organic box delivery suitable for the season:

In this house, three out of four people like brussels sprouts. And there's plenty of Vitamin C in there to keep winter colds at bay.

I love our veggie boxes and it's like a present every time to discover what seasonal treats are inside.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

I can sew a rainbow

... or the blog post in which I describe a sewing Plan, and hope it's not the kiss of death for the project!

I admired this rainbow quilt in Sew Hip magazine. For a while I've been considering making a modern quilt to give to dd, so she can take it with her when she goes off to college in a year or two, and this looks like a good candidate. Ideally I'd like to give it to her on her next birthday, which is in April.

The quilt pattern is being run as a series over several issues. As each of the colour blocks uses a different patchwork technique, and they are presented in order of difficulty, it looks like a great project for a person of limited quilting experience, like me.

As it's in parts, I can also stagger the cost of any materials needed. Although I do intend to use stash fabric whenever possible -  I already have enough fabrics to sew the blue, green and red pieces, and probably enough for the indigo too. But I did have to start by buying some orange fabric, as it's a colour I don't work with that often. I got this lot from Fabric Rehab, and some of it was in the sale!

Dd was in London visiting her elder sister this weekend, so I had a chance to make a start. The instructions start with the orange and blue panels (issue 35). I did the blue one first, which uses applique circles:

 Then I sewed the orange rail fence section:

Here's the evidence of completed sections from this weekend's sewing:

The small sections you can see at the front will form part of the border.

Issue 36 has the indigo and red sections in it, so when dd is next out of the house, I hope to tackle some of that.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Clementine cake

I used to make Nigella's clementine cake as a regular seasonal treat, until How to Eat was superseded by How to Be a Domestic Goddess, when it was usurped by snow-topped spice cake. But this year, I think I will make both. After all, everyone likes cake, and as the clementine cake contains fresh clementines, it must count as reasonably healthy - or is this just wishful thinking?

My clementines were rather large, so I only had to simmer three. This is what they looked like after two hours:

To make the cake, you whizz the cooked clementines in the blender, and then mix the pulp with the other ingredients and bake for an hour. The finished cake looks quite plain:

But when cut in slices, it is deliciously damp and orange-flavoured:

Mmm. I think maybe it won't last the week...

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Stock Taking

Recently I had a clearing-out frenzy at home, in the course of which, I cataloged my yarn stash (why yes, I am a Ravenclaw student. Why do you ask?!?)

Since I took this photo, I added another four skeins each of Knit Picks Telemark sport and Stroll sock yarn. As a baseline right now, my stash comprises 50 whole balls, 68 partial balls and 27 scraps (each less than half a skein).

I keep my yarn in these two baskets:

As you can see, my yarn no longer fits comfortably inside the baskets. And this photo was taken after I'd donated a large bag of yarn to a knitting group at church, and before the arrival of the last eight balls.

I realise my stash is small compared to some other knitters', but I'm still not happy with its size. I want to reduce it in 2012, as part of a general drive towards having less stuff.

How will I do this?

  1. I will always look for stash options first when I want to knit something.
  2. I will finish one project from stash before I may purchase new yarn for another project. If I can stick to this, it should stop my stash from growing any more.
  3. I will only buy new yarn when I have a specific project for it in mind. No more buying yarn because I like the look of it, or it is on sale. 

Here's to the baskets closing by next Christmas!

Sunday, 11 December 2011


This weekend, we....

And I also ....

Sometimes pictures speak louder than words.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

A lesson in sewing jersey

I've had my sewing machine since 1982, and last Sunday was the first time I ever used stitch pattern setting no. 2: triple stretch stitch.

This was because I made my first foray into sewing with jersey. I've never tried to do this before, as too intimidated by the stories of how hard it is to sew with stretch fabrics. But actually, it wasn't too bad, even though I didn't have a blunt-tipped needle. (I will get one for next time!)

Here's my super-stylish Superdry cushion made out of one of dd's discarded Tshirts. I cut out a square with the logo for the front, and used the back and bottom front to make the back envelope pieces. The logo isn't centred owing to its position on the tee.

I stitched the label into one of the side seams, for fun.

If you decide to try and make something out of jersey and using the special stitch on your machine, do take care to pin correctly. It is really difficult to unpick the resulting seam. (Go on, ask me how I know!)

It looks blue on my monitor, but in fact, this Tshirt is a blue-green colour. I still have the Tshirt sleeves left, and I'm quite tempted by this little piece of whimsy:

It's a craft project in a back issue of Mollie Makes. I might look for some more old green Tshirts and maybe make it some time.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Little green apples

Regular visitors here may remember the apple dapple cushion I made back in August. I just made a green version, as a certain family member keeps admiring my red one.

But don't say anything: it's a christmas surprise!

The applique is a free pattern downloadable from bustleandsew. I added the gingham borders, just because I like borders, I had to buy some more osnaburg for the base fabric, as mine was running low, but everything else came out of stash.

Next up: how I turn a discarded logo T-shirt into an accent cushion, I hope!

Thursday, 1 December 2011


Feeling festive?

#1. Four crocheted snowmen, to go on the christmas tree (once I add some hanging loops).

#2. Two crocheted snowflakes, ditto.

How are your preparations coming along?