Friday, 30 March 2012

A trip to Liberty

Guess what I got?! I had to go into London last week to collect one of my daughters, so I popped into Liberty. Liberty is always such a fabulous store to wander around. But I was after a pair of Kinky Knickers...

According to last night's Bottom line, which if you haven't caught, was fabulous, Liberty had ordered 609 pairs of Kinky Knickers.

Well... when I got to Liberty, there were just 8 pairs left... fortunately one in my size.

Now, I've never spent £10 on a pair of knickers in my life, but the story that goes with these, and the number of people it's helped into employment, is fabulous. The scene at the end of last night's programme, where they'd lined up everyone involved in the production, was amazing. And so I do want to support it. And I have to say, they are comfortable. I've always been wary of lace and knickers - they may look cute, but blimey, they are uncomfy. These really aren't. They fit comfortably, and are great.

If you can, do support. I think they are also in branches of John Lewis, Boots online, and House of Fraser, as well as Liberty (who said they were hoping for more in the next week or two).

Friday, 23 March 2012

Slow cooker for idiots guide Part 2!

Here we go... a slow cooker leftover chicken meal!

I'm reassured that I'm not the only one who can't get to grips with my slow cooker by the amount of visits I've had for my part 1 slow cooker for idiots guide, and a huge thank you for those who stopped to comment. I'm not a chef - I can cook, but I tend to throw things together, so please don't expect perfect recipes, but if I can help encourage a few people, I'll be very pleased. And if you have any recipes you have tried and are foolproof, please let me know.

So for last night's meal, I wanted to use up some leftover chicken. At 2pm (for a 6-ish pm meal) I cut up an onion and four carrots and put them into the slow cooker. I added one tin of chopped tomatoes, and an extra half can of water to get the extra tomato juices out. Then I dissolved a veggie stock cube in half a mug of water and added that. I switched on at medium.

A half hour later I added some charlotte potatoes. A good stir and the lid went back on.

 Two hours in I added the cooked chicken and a can of drained chick peas, and stirred again.

Total cook time was four hours. It was a really lovely and tasty meal, and the carrots were just right - not soggy. The potatoes held together as well. So another success, and I was really pleased.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Slow cooker for idiots guide Part 1!

Okay, I almost threw my slow cooker out the other week. I've been so disappointed by soggy vegetables, lack of taste, dry meat, blah blah. I searched everywhere for recipes, but nobody was answering the idiot questions I had. All I got was 'oh, just chuck it all in and turn it on'. When people are confident about something, they tend to forget that it's never that easy when you've never done it before. You need hand holding the whole way.

Well, I've finally, and oh-so-slowly (as I hate to be beaten), found I am maybe having a change of heart. So, thinking that I can't be the only one of the 7 billion or so people on the planet who is confused by a slow cooker, I thought I'd occasionally let you know what success I've had and what stupid questions I had that I've stumbled through.

We enjoyed a fab roast beef meal this week. I was given one cracking piece of advice - always brown your meat first. This gem (probably obvious to everyone else but a complete godsend to me) came from the wonderful Tamsyn at She is fab - taking the time a while back to email a recipe that got me feeling I could maybe possibly learn to slightly like my slow cooker. Her site is well worth a browse, so do take a peek... she offers lovely craft workshops in Somerset. But, back to the point... So I browned the joint.

Meanwhile, I chopped up one onion (small chunks), five carrots (large chunks) and half a swede (small chunks) and popped it as a mix into the bottom of the slow cooker (which I'd put on to low. I peeled and added quite a few potatoes, having halved them first. I then sprinkled over salt and pepper and gave it a stir.

I popped the meat on top (leaving the string around the joint in the hopes it might get tender enough to fall apart), added a glass of water - that's all - and put the lid on. I left it for 8 hours.

It was delicious. I have to say, I think this was too long - six hours next time. But the meat was tender, the vegetables crumbly, but tasty. And everyone loved it. Success!

I'll post another idiot's guide next time I succeed in making something in it.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Happy quilting - the block swap!

I'm so thrilled about my block swap. There are now seven of us - still two places! We're all doing something different, but on the basic theme of villages... so we have:

Ellie for houses
Lala for shops
Me for churches
Cartier for cottages
Mel at The Handcrafted Home for Vintage Second Hand Shops
Strandkorbtraum who will do castles
A new member who will do barns

All in all, a fab selection. I'm keeping it open in case one more person would like to join - just leave a comment. If not, I suggest we all make 9 blocks, and send 7. You'll then receive 7 back, which willl make a total of 9 - a good number for a wall hanging. If we get a final member, you'll still make 9 blocks, but send 8 and receive 8 back, to make 9. Hope that's clear. Maths was never my strong point!

Do please join my Flickr group to post pictures... Quilting Village Block Swap
There are currently three of us, and I'm feeling quite lonely! :) I'd love it if you could comment on pictures that we each post there as you get going.

Remember, trim to 12 x 12 inches - don't worry about my messy edges as in the first pic above, as I'm adding a border to my churches to set them, so that is not finished.

I'm working on my church blocks today. I am having so much fun with these.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Quick quilting update

The quilting swap is going fab, and will be a good one I really think. We now have six, which I think is a brilliant number for a wallhanging.

To go over the basic rules (sorry, hate that word, but think we do need it laid out):
  • There are six people, so each of us needs to produce six blocks, each member having a theme, as outlined below so we each end up with six different blocks. Easy peasy. :)
  • If you have a blog, I'll link below, but we can use Twitter. If you're not happy to upload to Twitter, email your pictures to me and I'll upload - I'd love to post progress pictures in a Twitter group. I'm setting that up today.
  • Please, all blocks to be with me by 31st May. If you cannot complete, or you want to drop out, please let me know so we can sort out something. Assuming you all stay in (I certainly hope so as you are all so fab) I will then ensure that you are all sent six contrasting blocks. You will then choose a way of putting the blocks together as a wallhanging. Or I guess, you may choose to make six cushions... I really don't want hard and fast rules here. :) But I do want pictures! 
  • All blocks to be 12 x 12 inches.It's easy to square up blocks with a border, so don't worry about this bit, but I think it's easier if they are all the same finished size. Sorry if I'm teaching grans to suck eggs here. I get the feeling you all are way more advanced than me anyway.
  • No colour restrictions - I'm making churches, and I'm choosing a text print as a roof on all the churches, but that's my choice. It's up to you what you do. The point is that we make our own blocks, but they fit together as a village would, so I can't see that colour is an issue.
  • I'm embellishing with buttons/applique/ribbon. It's again entirely up to you if you want to do this, or just make a block. I'm embellishing as I see this as a wallhanging not a quilt to lie over a bed, but I'll ensure it's all firmly attached. I have to say, the embellishing is becoming a little addictive though. 
  • To be clear, we are just creating block tops, not quilting, not wadding... just tops (so, backs will be messy with threads!). The recipient then finds a way to put the blocks they receive together. They may add fillets inbetween each block, for example. 
I think that probably covers everything - I'll let you have my addy closer to when you are ready to send blocks. If you have blogs, do visit and support the other members, as if they are like me, they'll need it!

Ellie will be doing houses
Lala will be doing shops
I'm doing churches :)
Cartier is doing cottages
And we have a wonderful new member: Mel at The Handcrafted Home who has chosen Vintage Second Hand Shop - sounds wonderful, Mel, and welcome!
We have someone doing barns

Please, don't worry. This is about fun, and sharing a journey together. I've said repeatedly, I AM A BEGINNER and I'm probably more nervous than anyone else about letting you all down. I'll do my best with my blocks, but please don't expect perfection.

Now, I'm off to try and sort out a Twitter group. I've not done this before, so wish me luck.
Okay, this should be the Flickr group -
It's called 'Quilting - Village block swap'. Do join. :)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

A little bit of family fun with applique

Inspired by the wonderful artwork fabric creations from the lovely lady here, my eldest and I settled down for an afternoon of applique fun. I'm obviously obsessed by houses, so popped three into a farming scene - I thought the patchwork fields worked really well. I haven't finished, so there will be another photo to come. It takes a long time to do applique, but it is such a relaxing thing to do.

Eldest meanwhile produced this:

She's still working on it, but I thought it was lovely.