Thursday, 17 April 2014

Giveaway winner

Drum roll please ... 
I had 18 comments ...

And I've put numbers 1 - 18 into a random number generator ... And that chose my winner for me 

So S from Snaps and Snippets is my winner! Thank you for joining in and reading my rambling blog posts. Susanne, I will be in touch to get your contact details. I have an idea of what I am going to be making but will keep it a secret until it's on its way. 

Today has been the most glorious day here, blue skies and sunshine all the way. Well after the stress and strain of a six monthly dental check up that is.  The dog and I have been laying around in the sunshine (Coco) and reading books in the sunshine (me) all afternoon. 
We had a lovely walk over the park, despite the fact that there is a 6ft tall South American Rhea on the loose fairly nearby. Apparently they can disembowel with their claws, run at 40mph and peck at eyes with their beaks if they are approached. I'm hoping that this escapee will soon be found and in the meantime is sticking to open fields rather than public parks and lakes. Why would you keep that as a pet?! And if you must, why not have a very secure pen to keep it in?
So as we head towards a glorious 4 day Easter weekend I'm hoping that the sun will keep shining but the weather forecast is sounding a little bit 'iffy' at the moment.  Better make the most of it while we can! 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Karaoke Quilting

I've realised that there is a distinct pattern to my method making of things. Also known as the Sing-along method (bear with me)
First I need the idea. The 'my life would be so enhanced if I made a ...' thought. The Aretha Franklin stage. 'Think! Think about what you're trying to do sew for me'
Then comes the 'this is what I need to make it'. Which involves diagrams that only I can decipher.  Workings out and calculations that make no sense at all. This moves onto a more streamlined drawing and the realisation that I have mixed metric measurements with inches so all my calculations are wrong. This is also known as the 'back to the drawing board stage' or The One Direction stage. 'You're insecure, so half of four, your old brains are not what they were before'

Impatience then sets in as I rearrange my plans so I can visit the fabric shop or delay tackling the ironing pile until I have spent at least an hour trawling the internet. Fabric is bought.  Fabric is stroked and folded. Laid out in various orders to work out which one sits best next to another. The Grease stage.  'We go together like grey stripe, squirly blue, rama lama ding dong'

Calculations are checked and double checked. Fabric is smoothed out and measured. Rotary cutters are held. Rulers are moved around. This is known as the 'Rod Stewart' phase.  'The first cut is the deepest, baby I know ...' And so the cutting begins. There is always one anxious moment when either the ruler moves or the lack of maths knowledge brings doubt.
There is then a longer pause, while I contemplate the task ahead. This frequently causes a delay. But I know that this is followed by the 'Dinner is going to be late because I've lost track of time' or the 'I'll just do one more row' phase. Yes, this is the Diana Ross and the Supremes stage 'You can't hurry quilts, no you just have to wait ...'
But we are approaching the burn out stage, I've quilted for too long without break and I'm hitting the 'I've still got so much to do' part which means that we do actually get to eat dinner and shirts do get ironed as I have exhausted the initial excitement.  After giving myself a good talking to, I battle on and reach the The Sylistics Stage 'Let's put it all together'.
Also known as the 'Coco get off that fabric' phase as we all know that anything left on the floor is an easy target for a dog who loves to lay on soft things.
Backing is smoothed, wadding is laid on top and the pretty bit is added. This phase is best carried out while the dog is either in the garden or out on a walk, because at this point, the newly emerging quilt is irresistible bedding potential.
Pinned and sandwiched together we are heading for the homeward straight. Just in time for the 'I can't remember how to fit this walking foot on the machine' phase. But then it's on and the almost finished quilt is on my lap and being fed through the machine. The Kate Bush stage 'I'm running up that hill, I'm stitching in that ditch ...'
We now enter the 'I will never make anything this wide again' phase as huge folds of fabric threaten any chance of sewing a straight line. 
But we are nearly there now, binding is cut and Mr Google is consulted for how to mitre a corner. This is known as the Sound of Music phase 'Doe a deer a female deer, ray a drop of golden sun. Me a name I call myself, Far a long long way to roam, Sew a needle pulling thread ...'
I sit in the sunshine, with quilt on my lap, dog by my side and with the final few inches of hand sewing to do we reach the 'I'm so sad this is finished. What can I do next?' 
And so the circle do crafting is complete!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

One photo & 20 words & 1 giveaway

My 1000th blog post! To mark the occasion I am offering a giveaway prize.  Interested?  Leave me a comment below!

Joining in with Abi's meme again this month.

I honestly can't believe I have written one thousand blog posts!  All I'm saying about the giveaway is that it will be something handmade/sewn.  I'll draw a name in a week's time.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

April so far

I'm guessing that the unpredictable weather we are having at the moment is totally my fault.
That odd rainstorm that brought across the Saharan sand?  That would be because I washed my car the day before. 
The dull drizzly weather we've had after almost a week of sunshine?  That coincides nicely with us taking delivery of a new outdoor sofa for the patio.
So that's it.  I'm not planning any more fair weather activities so maybe the warm dry weather will return.
In between washing cars and building sofas I have been doing creative things but I can't share what I've been up to on my blog because they're going overseas to someone who reads this so my creative activities will have to stay a secret until they have safely arrived to their destination.  They haven't even made it to the post office yet so don't hold your breath! In fact, getting them packed into an envelope would be a good start wouldn't it?
After mentioning Greek Easter Biscuits recently, a few people asked for the recipe so without further ado ... Recipe from Luke at The Lemon Tree Restaurant
50g pitted medjool dates
50g Dark Chocolate - any dark chocolate will work but Chef recommends Willie's Venezuelan Rio Caribe Chef's chocolate drops
125g pecan nuts (I used pistachio)
125g plain flour
75g cold, diced unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
Vanilla seeds from a pod or vanilla essence

Place the dates and chocolate in a processor and blend together. Place in a mixing bowl and use your hands to make small 1cm sized balls of the date and chocolate mix. Set aside.
Clean the processor bowl then place the pecan nuts in and blitz to a fine powder. Add the flour, butter, sugar and vanilla to the nuts in the processor and blitz together to a fine breadcrumb.
Place the mix in a bowl and add about 2 teaspoons of water and mix it in lightly with your hands. Take a handful of the shortbread mix, pop a chocolate ball in and carefully mould the mix round the chocolate aiming for a biscuit the size of a walnut.
Place the biscuits on a baking tray covered in parchment paper, and bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees for 30 minutes. Leave to cool until the biscuits are able to be handled.
When they are ready roll each biscuit in a dish of icing sugar being generous with the covering. Leave to cool for a further 30 minutes then re-roll in the icing sugar. When the biscuits are re-rolled they are ready to eat and will keep well for days in an airtight
And that's just where Luke is wrong - Mine did not keep for days due to the fact that they were so popular they got eaten very quickly!

I've been in a bit of a cooking frame of mind this month, having received the new Mary Berry recipe book for my birthday.  I have made about six things out of it and every single one has been a total success.  Have you seen any of the episodes of the series that is on BBC on a Monday?  This is the book that goes with the series and I wholeheartedly recommend it.  The family are a little pleased, yet amused by my enthusiasm for all things Mary, especially  on Monday evening when I was heard to say to the dog 'Come on Coco, let's get comfortable, Mary Berry will be on any moment' and as I settled down on the sofa, she (Coco, not Mary) snuggled up next to me as if she were watching it too.

The Italian lessons are still going well, and it's surprising how much we have picked up.  Did I mention that my husband and I have downloaded the Duolingo app and are preparing ourselves for our summer holiday?  Try it, you'll be surprised how good it is for a free app. We have a family who live in our cul de sac whose mother is Italian and the other day when I was coming back from a dog walk, I heard her say something to their little girl about the lovely little white puppy.Il bellissimo cagnolino bianco.  This is my chance, I thought, I'll practise my Italian on them.   What should I say?  Should I talk about the weather?  Ask her what her name was?  Then the mum continued talking to the little girl and was speaking at 100 miles and hour.  There was no chance I would be able to converse.  Even if I could make her understand me, I would never understand her reply!  So I resorted to a smile and a 'Ciao' and ran indoors.  Things have got to improve a LOT before July ...

Monday, 31 March 2014

My Month in Numbers

Time to join in with Julie Kirk's Month in Numbers. How can we possibly have got through to the end of March already? 

It's been an eventful month. There's been blood, sweat and tears.  Oh yes.  Don't let anyone tell you it's uneventful over here in Deb's World.
This month I discovered a sad, neglected Wii fit machine lurking amongst the cobwebs beneath the tv.  In a moment of madness I ran upstairs, changed into joggers and switched it on.  I then spent a further 15 minutes trying to hunt down new batteries as it's been so long since I last used it, the batteries had run out.  However, despite it telling me that in the 1120 days since I last used it {oh the shame} I have got less agile and more heavier, after doing the fitness test it gave me a Wii fit age of ... drum roll ... fanfare of trumpets ... bring on the dancing girls ... 34.  Which was a bit of a shock because I had a birthday this month and I'm pretty sure that it was my 56th.  Clearly that birth certificate is wrong - happy days!
I'm not the only one with a March birthday, my son was 24 on the 5th and my great nephew was 2. So add us all together and we make 82. Unless we believe the Wii and it's 60.
Talking of sons, ours came home twice this month. One visit was only for 4 hours as he was en route somewhere else but every minute counts!
I've been in the wars this month. I needed up with 10 large blisters following a cryotherapy appointment at the doctors. Let's just say the nurse got a bit 'trigger happy' with the canister of liquid nitrogen.  Don't ask! Then I had a pretty impressive fall while walking the dog which resulted in two grazed hands, one bruised finger and a cut and bruised knee. Also one confused dog who couldn't understand why we returned home so quickly after setting off. Before she had even had the opportunity to do what a dog needs to do.
I made three cushion covers and sent off one patchwork quilt block. 
We had a fire drill at work and managed to get 1123 students and over 70 staff safely out of the building and into the school field in about 10 mins.  Fortunately this was the day before my fall otherwise I would have had to ask matron to give me a lift in the emergency wheelchair. 
So how was your March?  Why not join in and see what numbers you can come up with too?

Sunday, 30 March 2014

ZIZO on Mother's Day

Have been thoroughly spoilt on Mother's Day. My daughter has done all cooking all day from homemade pancakes (a brilliant recipe made with cottage cheese and oatmeal) for breakfast and teriyaki salmon for lunch. Dessert combined all of my favourite things and provided an ideal zoom in zoom out combination too.
Lemon mascarpone cake and home made lemon meringue white chocolate truffles
Are you ready for that close up?

Inspired by Helena's zoom in zoom out Project

Remembering my Mum with love and very special memories on Mothers Day. Always in my heart x

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Let's sit and have a cup of tea

Here we are again, these months are flying by aren't they? Tea or coffee, which would you prefer?
Your timing is good,I made these Greek Easter shortbreads yesterday, tell me what you think and let me know if you can guess what is in the middle. 

I learnt the recipe at last week's cookery club and I think they are a winner. Little balls of pistachio shortbread wrapped around a chewy chocolatey centre. What makes it chewy? Well the secret ingredient is not something I like but I have to admit that it is a success. Dates. Just 3 but they just add a little texture to the chopped chocolate.
I've had a busy sewing month, see those two colourful cushions?
 They were designs I found in the Love Patchwork magazine. Whilst I loved the cathedral window design, a cushion cover is quite large enough, I would never manage a whole quilt!  I've also recovered the seat cushion on the Ercol rocking chair. Time to start on the next friendship quilt block.  Deb Turtle's up next! What have you been creating since we last got together? 
I can see you have noticed the Wii fit is out in the lounge. Do you have one?  According to ours, in the 1120 days since I last used it (oh the shame) I have got less fit and more heavy.  Oops.  Time to put both those things right. Maybe I should step away from those shortbreads! Oh my goodness, it's not long until Easter either which always involves a bit of chocolate here and there. Willpower, where are you? 
And once again time has flown by and it is time for you to leave to pop over to Abi's and see who else is inviting you to join them for a cup of tea.