Saturday, 8 December 2012

Memories of summer

We spent a day in London in the summer, and did so much. One of the things two of my children did was go on The Starflyer. I have to say, my mum instincts kicked in and I wasn't completely at ease as they went up, as it was so high. Here's the history.

I didn't like the 'has no fixings into the ground bit!'
They loved it, really loved it. I can't imagine going on it.

67 metres up! On what look like flimsey chains. Shivers*

Friday, 7 December 2012

Still here but busy on customised Christmas orders

It's been a little while since I had a chance to update my blog. That's because I've been busy making Christmas stockings, which has been a lovely build up to Christmas. I've also had fun with glasses cases. Here's a new batch being cut:

with a selection of Cath Kidston fabrics and a lovely music score print. and here they are waiting for their buttons.

Three of these were then packed and headed off for one order.

I was also so thrilled to see this one on the front of Folksy this week, which is the first time I think I've made the front page in the three years I've been there. And it sold, which was also lovely.

I've also had a lot of fun designing some customised cases for orders:

and these:

and this one:

I've not had much chance to post, as have been so busy sewing, but I wanted to update my blog a little as I've been missing it. Times just flashes by so fast!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Family meals

I've recently become a little fed up of the rut we seem to have got into with our meals. We have the same as apparently a lot of the population of England - spag bols, shepherds pie, roasts (though I'll never get bored of roast!), blah blah. The odd curry, though with a daughter slightly allergic to chilli, we have to be careful with curries. Anybody out there having the same problem? Or perhaps we're the only family in a meal rut at the moment. I searched my cookery books, but they are either things the children won't eat, or standard dull stuff.

So I decided it was time to vary it all a bit. I dug out a more interesting recipe for basically a courgette and hummus pie. It was supposed to have olives, which I didn't have, and filo - I had to substitute shortcrust. But I basically followed the recipe (which was touted as one 'even dedicated carnivores are guaranteed to love').

It was delicious and a great success with my children, two of whom I'd say are incredibly fussy.

So, that's a new one we'll be having again. But perhaps not again and again and again! :)

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Eggstravaganza in Covent Garden

 I couldn't resist posting about my wander around Covent Garden in London earlier this year, as I thought I'd lost the photos. More than 200 eggs had been decorated and scattered in various locations around London for the 3 months leading up to Easter, and I saw some of them, but then they all came together in Covent Garden.

It was fascinating having a wander around.

I loved this one:

Amazing detail in the china flowers:

There was all sorts. This was fun - an egg made up of little metal people:

And a world map (with a model pigeon on top):

 And this one

It's so nice when you stumble upon photos you thought you'd lost. I hope you enjoyed ambling around Covent Garden with me. There were so many, they even hung them from the roof!

Does anybody else remember seeing them?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

"A special birthday cake - a desert island, please!"

"...with me in a hammock, and palm trees, and a book, and maybe I can be sleeping..."

So went the latest request for a birthday cake. Many of you know I have loved making my children's cakes over the years (just click on my birthday cakes label on the right hand side). This is the making of the desert island cake. It started with me cutting the island shape (having baked the cake following my trusty Mary Berry recipe - I love her recipes, and I've never been let down by any one of them).

I then decided to add the yellow sand, which meant kneading in the colour to the icing:

and working up some blue for the sea:

The palm trees were never going to be easy. In the end I decided to try rolos. And, of course, colour more icing green for the palm tree leaves.

This was not my best idea. I cut the shapes easily enough, but they were saggy and needed to dry, and I didn't have time for them to dry.

The solution was a wire frame built from chicken wire. This is not a good way to make a palm tree out of icing! So please don't follow my complicated method.

But it went well enough. first! The rolos had a habit of breaking apart and spurting out the toffee centre (not helped by the wire I'd stuck down the middle of each). In the end I substituted a chocolate bar for one and wrapped ribbon around both. But I was thrilled with the result. I'd chopped up the sea to make it look patchey, and then as a final touch added glass shells I bought a long time back, on a holiday in Cornwall. Those of you with sharp eyes will spot the bees that always appear on our birthday cakes, year after year, and date back to one I did several years ago.

And finally, a birthday cake as it's meant to be:
Meanwhile the party goers were enjoying themselves with some brilliant games, including a very messy 'make a mummy' game with two toilet rolls.

It was a brilliant party for a lovely group of 15/16 year olds. Who says teens don't know how to have fun anymore if not glued to a gadget?! The teens I know are absolutely delightful, and great fun. (Though I still made sure I stayed out of the way for them! :) )

Now I've got to find a way to make a helicopter cake in the next couple of weeks. Watch this space!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Make a skirt from a dress - mine cost £2!

I picked up this dress at the weekend for the princely sum of £2 - on a end of season bargain rail. It's not my size, but I loved the material, with its cute parrots, so decided that for £2 it would be perfect to try and make into a skirt.

I found a book in the library and traced a pattern onto greaseproof paper and cut out. I'll try and find the book, as it's a really lovely one, and I plan to make more from it.

I had to jiggle a bit - there's a seam where there's not meant to be a seam, but I'm thrilled with the result. Best of all, it was such a fun project.

I just need to hem. So if you spot something in a shop reduced to a ridiculous price, it's always worth snapping up. [As long as it doesn't end up on the 'things to do' job list. :) ]

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Where there's a will...


We planned to go to a country fair this afternoon, but got there and found we'd misread the website info, and it was actually tomorrow. Doh! So instead of a wasted journey, we decided to go for a walk along the River Wey, which is always a fun thing to do. There were so few people today, and the weather was fabulous. My eldest is on her DofE this weekend, so we were one short, but it was good to think we were doing a little walk while she was doing her major one. :)

Anyway, the hedgerows were so full of blackberries. I used to love autumn blackberry-ing, but there's not been a good crop near us for some time. Not in Sept/Oct that is. And because we'd planned to go to a show, we didn't have a bag, or anything on us. I certainly didn't want to go home without. So, we improvised. We wove a bracken basket...

It doesn't look much, but honestly, it is a woven bracket basket. I love bracken, having spent many hours falling into bracken as a child (sad?!)... but the littleuns began to accept bracken could be very comfy to lie in. Didn't it used to be used for beds? I think my lovely friend over at Dancing on a blade of grass could help on that - I'm often awed by her knowledge and skills of detection.

We also tried weaving rushes, but it was taking a lot longer to make a basket.

But the bracken worked a treat. I got my blackberries...

We also saw this lovely site on the way back:

which I think I'd love to do one day. It looked very peaceful, with no noisy engine.

As for the blackberries, we added them to the last four apples from the tree in our garden, and they are cooking up ready for a blackberry and apple pie.

Yummy. Surely one of the nicest pies ever and always fab with hedgerow berries. Free and improvised afternoons are often the best of family days, methinks.

Friday, 21 September 2012

What a sewing bargain!

I popped into Lidl last night - it's a little out of my way, so it's not a frequent stop, but I was passing. I was so thrilled to see this selection of sewing threads - 28 bobbins and matching reels (plus a bit more) for £3.49! I bought three metal bobbins recently and the cheapest I found were 18 p each. So a true bargain. It's also lovely to have them pre loaded.
If you have a local Lidl and love sewing, it's worth popping in this week.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

The mess in the kitchen - am I alone?

Well, I decided it was time to do some major sorting out and chucking out in the kitchen. With a busy family life, I'm a little embarrassed to admit I don't always stay on top of my kitchen cupboards. I couldn't possibly show you one of my cupboards full, but this was halfway through pulling everything out. At this point I begun to wonder if other people have this problem, or if we're just not very good at controlling what we buy (and we try!). I found this...

...we don't use gelatine very often, but most people have a packet hidden away, don't they? But then I found these:

...and of course everybody also needs leaf gelatine, don't they?!

I also discovered some empty packets. Now, empty packets of sweets, I can blame on the children, but who would have put this BACK IN THE CUPBOARD?!!!!! Completely empty... and it wasn't alone.

And even I was surprised to find this in the back of one of the cupboards. Why on earth did I think I should carry a packet of Gofio back from Europe (and this was from a few years back as well!), and what is it still doing in the cupboard? I don't even know what I'd do with Gofio!

Another curiosity. Why have we essence of rose water. What would I use it for? One 'helpful' suggestion was turkish delight?! I hate turkish delight.
I have no idea how it crept into my cupboards.

Does anyone else discover unexplained gems like all these or am I just hopeless when it comes to controlling my kitchen cupboards?

And this is also annoying - why was this put back? It has nothing left, and has sat there for goodness how long.

So, I'm halfway through. I wish I'd tackled the cupboards more regularly. I don't feel very domestic goddess-y! In fact, it's left me feel pretty hopeless. :(