Friday, 27 February 2015

FIve on Friday: Crafting in February


I'm joining in again with Amy for 'Five on Friday' and today's post 
is about all the crafting I've done this February.

 I always love a spot of crafting, be it sewing, crochet, knitting or embroidery. I find it relaxing and soothing and I'm so grateful that
 I discovered a love for it a few years ago. Best of all, with crafting,
 I can make things for my family and our home which is just wonderful
and why I love it so much.

So this month I've been sewing, both by hand and machine.
I'm making pot holders for our kitchen with materials- fabrics,
wadding, binding- all from my stash.

I've managed to finish sewing the first one yesterday and hopefully
soon I'll be able to start making the next one.

I've had a start on hand quilting my patchwork blanket- finally!

This little sewing adventure didn't start well. As you can see I'm using
a curved needle here.That's because the quilting thread couldn't fit into
any of the 'betweens' needles I got and I thought I'll try with a curved one
instead. It was awkward and difficult and I did think of just doing it all
by machine. I now have some new needles and I'm still determined to
do this by hand, so fingers crossed...

I've also tried English Paper Piecing.

My hexies were a bit wonky and it was more fiddly than I'd expected.
Still it was good to learn something new, or at least try.

Aside from sewing, I've also crocheted this month, although just
 a tiny bit.

I've added a few more squares to my crochet throw, a long standing

I have also crocheted- and sewed- to make this tea cosy.

It's doing a fantastic job keeping my teapot warm and I'm ever so
pleased with it.

So it's been sewing and some crochet for me this month. I'm 
planning to do some embroidery in the coming weeks and more
sewing. I'm looking forward to them all!


I am joining in Five on Friday, taking five minutes from our day
to enjoy five things. Please go and visit the other people who are also
blogging about Five on Friday this week. Just click here. Sorry I still
haven't figured out how to add the button thingy here!

Have a lovely Friday everyone!

ps. Thanks for all your well wishes for Markie. She's not having
a great time right now but she doesn't complain much, bless her.
We do hope she'll get better soon.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A Tea Cosy

This is all about my new tea cosy. It's my latest finished project-
another tick in my things-to-make list. Hurray!

I've made tea cosies before- a couple to sell at craft fairs and another
two as presents- but this is the first time I've made one for my own use.
Until recently I've preferred tea bags to loose leaf tea. They're quicker,
easier, fuss-free. We have two tea pots in the house but we've seldom
used them. Then over the New Year I decided to use up this tin of loose leaf tea I was given ages ago and developed a real fondness for it.
They do taste better and I have come to enjoy the whole process of
making a 'proper pot' of tea. And in a funny way it feels to me like
 a more grown up way of making and consuming this favourite drink.
 So now that I'm a convert to loose leaf tea I use one of my tea pots
(the smaller of the two) everyday and it needs a little cosy to keep
it lovely and warm and so, of course, I just have it make it one.

I was going to crochet it but I couldn't decide which pattern
to pick- there are just so many brilliant ones out there!- and decided
to do it by sewing. I found my old pattern, adjusted the size a bit
and started cutting and sewing away. I wanted cherries to applique
on the outside and chose to make them using the crochet brooch
pattern from issue 43 of Mollie Makes. I love cherries, they're a
 favourite motif. I've added them before to other projects
 (you can see more here and here).

I'm really pleased with it. I like the combination of gingham, crochet
and little spots together. I'm glad I chose to make it this way.

It is also a treat to use. It's got the same waddling and backing material
that I've used for my patchwork blanket. It is thick and can keep
my tea pot warm for a long time-- a very cosy tea cosy!!

So that's my tea cosy. At the moment I'm making a couple of
pot holders for the kitchen. They'll take awhile to finish I think. We have
chicken pox in our house right now. Markie came home from school today with itchy spots that are unmistakably chicken pox so she's
off school for the rest of the week. I'll be busy giving cuddles and Calpol doses for the next few days. I doubt I'll have much time for sewing.
 We'll see. Anyway, thanks for stopping by here. I hope you're all having
a nice Tuesday evening. Have a lovely rest of the week!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Ginger Tea

I have a recipe here for ginger tea or salabat as it's known
in the Philippines. This is a popular hot drink back home particularly
during the cold or rainy season. It is a soothing brew and a good remedy
for colds and sore throats. A steaming cup or two of this will help you
if you're feeling under the weather. You'll also have the spicy aroma
of brewing ginger filling your kitchen and home which is a lovely bonus
when you make this tea.

The simplest way of making salabat is by boiling ginger in water.
 Over Christmas I found a recipe from the excellent book Memories of
Philippine Kitchens where apples and oranges are added to the mix and
 this is now our preferred way of making this. The added fruit lessen
the edge of the ginger and add sweetness to the flavour. I've sipped
many cups of this throughout the winter and have always felt warmed
and comforted especially when I was unwell. So here's how to make it 
based on the recipe from Memories of Philippine Kitchens.

You'll need:

approx. 65g fresh ginger, peeled and cut into small chunks
1/3 orange, cut into thin slices
1/3 apple, cut into thin slices

Place the ginger, apple and orange slices in a small saucepan.
Add 400 mls of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for another 5 minutes
or until the brew has developed a nice flavour. Strain through a fine
sieve into a cup. Add sugar or honey to taste. Orange juice also works
well as a sweetener.

This recipe makes enough for one large mug or two small cups.
If the ginger taste is too strong for you, just add a little more water
or sugar. However, if you want it more spicy pound the ginger
before boiling.

I hope you'll find this recipe useful and helpful.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Pancakes, kites and dragons

Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday here in the UK and, as is tradition,
we made pancakes. My husband followed a Delia recipe but instead of lemon, which we didn't have, we used freshly squeezed orange juice
to sprinkle over the pancakes. We had them for breakfast and they were
 really nice. The girls, however, weren't too fussed about them; they'd
rather have toast. So us grown-ups ended up eating the rest of the pancakes which we didn't really mind doing.

We spent the morning at  Sheffield Manor Lodge, a local
heritage site. We've never been before and were pleasantly surprised
 by the whole place. There's a discovery centre, playground, farm,
cafe and artist studios, all built around the ruins of the grand manor house that was built by the Earl of Shrewsbury in the 16th century.
Before this the site used to be part of a medieval deer park. Mary,
Queen of Scots, was imprisoned here sometime in the 1500's.
It is interesting, educational and fun, a really good place to visit,
especially with kids.

The girls ran and played. It was the first time in days that we had
 weather this nice and we all enjoyed being out in the fresh air and
 sunshine. There were Chinese New Year half term craft activities
 at the centre and they both had a go at making paper kites as well as
  dragons out of empty egg boxes. They did really well. There was
a strong breeze going outside and they had a good run around
trying to fly their kites.

Pancakes, kites and dragons, all in a happy, sun-filled morning.
It's been a good half-term so far, and a good start to Lent for us.
I hope yours are going well too. Thank you for stopping here.
Have a lovely rest of the week!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Pear Cushion Cover

This is my second finished project for 2015- a new cushion
cover with hand stitched appliques. I have fancied a cushion
 like this for our sofa since seeing something similar in Homes and 
Antiques magazine ages ago and I'm pleased that I've finally found the
time to make my own version of it.

It was on a snowy day a few weeks ago that I decided to
get my fabrics, thread and needle out and get started on this.
I think I was spurred on by the horrible weather. I wanted to make
something fairly simple and quick that will bring a pop of colour
 to our home while it was gloomy and freezing outside. I took a break
from my granny throw and used my spare time stitching this
and it didn't take me very long to finish.

I enjoyed stitching the appliques; I'm glad I did it by hand 
instead of using my sewing machine. The cushion's colours make me think of spring and the pear brings to mind summer fruits and sunshine. 
It's a nice spot of colour and brightness, just what I was after,
so I'm really happy with this. And it's another finished project,
another tick in my ever long to-make list and that's always
a very happy thing.

It's half-term holiday here and we started it off yesterday
with a trip to the cinema. Shaun the Sheep Movie is a fun film, even I 
enjoyed it. Today we're just staying at home and taking it easy.
 I'm hoping to be able to do some sewing later- I'm making
a tea cosy! Still no progress with the quilting though, 
maybe next week. Maybe.

Hope your Saturday and Valentine's Day is going well. 
Have a lovely weekend!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Spring-like Days

Blowing bubbles in the afternoon sunshine, no coats,
 just cardigans..........playing and pottering outdoors.....dark,
flowery shadows on the wall........All delightful things
on the sunniest, mildest two days we've ever had so far this year.
 It's been so lovely, it feels like spring is not too far away and
 for this I feel happy and thankful. I've been enjoying the loveliness
 of daffodils for weeks now and lately I've been making plans and crafting with sunnier, warmer days in mind. I'm beginning to feel
excited about spring, I really hope it will be here soon!

What's the weather like where you are? Hope it's nice
and bright too. Have a lovely week!

Friday, 6 February 2015

A cake for the weekend

Hello! I hope it's been a happy Friday for you. If you're planning to do some baking this weekend, I have a recipe here that you might like to try.
 It's for Moist Orange and Almond Cake, a firm family favourite.
 It is easy and simple to make, tastes delicious and as the name suggests, moist in a soft and lovely way. Plus you'll have the sweet
 scent of orange cooking filling up your kitchen and home,
always a nice bonus when you make this cake.

This recipe is from afternoon tea by Molly Perham.


1 large orange
3 eggs
225g caster sugar
1tsp baking powder
225g ground almonds
25g plain flour
Icing sugar, for dusting

1. Pierce the orange with a skewer. In a pan, pour over water
to cover completely. Bring to the boil then lower the heat,
cover and simmer for an hour or until the skin is very soft.
Drain, then cool.

2. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and line with baking
 parchment a 20cm round cake tin. Cut the orange in half and
discard the pips. Place the orange in a blender or food processor
and puree until pulpy and smooth.

3. Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick. Mix together the
baking powder, almonds and flour, then fold into the eggs.
Fold in the puree.

4. Pour into the prepared tin, level the surface and bake
for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes
out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out on to
a wire rack, peel off the lining paper and cool completely.
Dust the top with icing sugar.

The book suggests serving this with whipped cream. It's already gorgeous on it's own but if you really fancy it, we think it will be very,
very nice with creme freche.

 Apologies for not having a photo of the whole cake. It was sliced
and served before I had the chance to do it when we made this
 a few days ago. This cake is always a winner in our house.
 I hope you'll like it too.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

In the meantime

I wrote about my patchwork blanket a few weeks ago and I'm happy
to say that there had been some slow but steady progress. All the fabric
 squares had been pieced together and with the quilt top all finished,
 I can now start quilting it. Unfortunately the thread that I had ordered online for this took ages to arrive. It was a bit annoying. I was looking
forward to learning how to quilt by hand but I couldn't really go ahead
 without the thread. I had no choice though but to wait. In the meantime
I decided to work on one of my WIP's.

This WIP is my unfinished granny square throw. I had enjoyed
this crochet project last summer but then I got distracted and it had
been set aside for much easier and quicker makes. It's been languishing
in a basket all this time.

It was good to pick it up again after many months and finally add
a few more squares to the ones I've already made. I particularly
enjoyed working on this on the stormy, snowy days that we've had recently. It was a nice distraction from the horrible weather outside
 and the colours are lovely and cheerful.

So it's all turned out well - I had to take a break from one project
but, in the meantime, I've also made progress on another. My crochet
throw got a bit of love and attention and it's looking a little less sad.
I'll try and make time for it whenever I can. At the moment it is back
to sewing- the thread has been delivered and my quilting adventure
can now begin. Fingers crossed, this will turn out well too!

Thank you for stopping by here. I hope February has started well
for you all. Take care and have a lovely Wednesday!