Thursday, 30 June 2011

Seasonalities

My gooseberry bush, after fruiting superbly in its first year, has done nothing at all this year. No blossom, no fruit at all. But it does look pretty healthy, and has grown really well, so maybe all its energies have gone into that.

I had a craving for seasonal gooseberries, so was pleased to discover some in our organic box delivery last week. I've only just started on the fruit deliveries, and this week our box had blackcurrants, cherries, nectarines, apples and bananas. Three out of four people in this family love fruit, so we have no trouble at all consuming it.

I used the gooseberries to make this tart:


I'm still a learner on the pastry front, but the tart tasted just fine. It was the gooseberry and creme fraiche tart out of Delia's How to Cook Book 3.

The tart formed part of a buffet lunch for 40+ that happened at our house last weekend, to celebrate this occasion:

Ds as First Communicant, June 2011
It was a lovely weekend, but I've been a bit tired at work this week, so it's rather good I have a day off today, even though it's been forced on me (teachers' strike leads to school closure).

Saturday, 25 June 2011

End of Term

...end of an era, really, as examinations are now complete for dd, age 16. We also have this beautiful wallhanging added to our home - it's dd's final examination piece for her Art Textiles GCSE.



My stepdaughter came to visit, and brought these cakes in celebration.


They came from the bakery shop at London St Pancras. I ate the blackcurrant one, and it was yummy.

How nice for dd to have freedom for the rest of the summer. Although for the rest of us, it's really business as usual.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Filet crochet

My latest crochet project also incorporated a little sewing, with the crochet element being mainly decorative.


These are pot pourri sachets to hang in your wardrobe or keep in a drawer to gently scent your clothes. They measure approx 18 x 20 cm.

For the crochet, I used a 2.5mm hook and Rowan siena 4-ply mercerised cotton. I followed a pattern in The Crochet Bible, which I'd borrowed from the library, and produced two squares with different designs using filet mesh technique - the first time I'd tried this. Apparently filet crochet is most often done in white thread, but I like the contrast of the red one. Here's a photo where you can see it more clearly:



I also learned how to do a crocheted picot trim, and work a pattern partly from charted instructions.

The bags were made of repurposed fabric, from my extensive stash of worn-out pillowcases. The sachets are stuffed with dried rose petals I bought off ebay.

I think these are not too bad at all, so they are destined to be gifts.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Mollie Makes

Having read a lot of hype on teh Internets about the new UK crafting magazine, Mollie Makes, I bought a copy of issue 2 at the weekend.


The magazine is beautifully laid out and the photography is awesome.

However, the fundamental problem I have with magazines (and this is just my humble, personal opinion here: I'm not wanting to start a war! nor is it just about Mollie Makes) is that a lot of them are just glorified advertising. Although it's nice to know about current trends, when page after page is just recommendations of things you can buy (even the so-called features!) I start to ask myself why *I've* had to pay for this.

There is also a horrible clash with my aim to lead a more sustainable life, in which case I'll be shopping less, not more. (See my previous blog post titled Reduce, reuse, recycle for more explanation.)

The other dissatisfaction I had with this particular issue of Mollie Makes was the nature of the makes included. Being a practical kind of person, I like my crafting to have utility. I don't mind things being beautiful, obviously, but I also like them to be useful. For those without a copy, this issue's sewing projects were several felt softies, strawberry pincushions, add-on pockets to sew onto your existing skirt as embellishments, a decorative felt flower, and a piece of floral embroidery.

But there were also crochet directions for a rather nice granny square blanket - designed by the illustrious  Jane Brocket:


It's not worth buying for this alone, though, IMO, not least because there are loads of free patterns for similar types of crocheted blankets on the net.

I will however look for this magazine again to see if I like the makes better another time. Thank goodness it's not sold in a plastic bag, so you can peep at the contents page before investing your fiver!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Boys

Some ways in which boys are different to girls, according to me.

#1. They don't mind if their replacement buttons are not an exact match.


#2. They steal your crocheted projects and use them for storage of lego mini-figures:


#3. They get invested into Cubs and require badges sewing on:


But wait! Surely I did exactly the same for Brownies?

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Subconscious

New crochet theme! Not fruit!

First there were shells, as demonstrated in this camera cozy:


I made this a few weeks ago, using a free pattern from Ravelry and various scraps of dishcloth cotton, plus a 4mm hook.

With this project, as well as learning to crochet a shell pattern, I practised pick up and crochet (is that the right term? it's the same technique as pick up and knit, basically, only using sc instead) to make the closure flap, making a buttonhole, and crocheting a seam together.

After the shells, I moved on to (fishing?) nets, in the form of filet crochet. Here's my latest WIP:


Mmm, a trip to the coast would be lovely. Maybe I'll organise one in the summer holidays.

Don't worry, fruit will most likely be back in my next crochet-related post!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Lemon heaven

I made a cake at the weekend to test my brand-new, silicone cake mould. I bought a version in royal blue:


I was dubious, as I only ever used old-fashioned tins before, but it was very easy to turn the cake out, and there is no lining or greasing required at all.

This is not a visually spectacular cake, just your basic loaf-type:


But it was drenched in lemon syrup, and tasted absolutely wonderful.

The recipe is the lemon syrup loaf cake from Nigella's How to be a domestic goddess. I've made loads of cakes from there now. Surely I must be at least Level 2 in the domestic goddess training front?

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Exams

It's been very quiet at our house, this week, because dh and ds are away in Ireland. This is supposed to create an environment to facilitate revision:

Dd doing maths revision, June 2011
Obviously it is traditional for the weather to improve just when exam candidates most need to stay in and study. I remember this from my own school days, along with sitting in a sweltering examination hall trying to focus in the golden heat.

Only two more weeks, and then dd will be free for the rest of the summer. And then what will she do all day?!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Trio

My finished trio of crocheted purses:


For the pear, I had to re-work the pieces using a pattern of my own devising, as the original instructions totally failed to produce a shape bearing any resemblance to a pear!

I like the strawberry best.