Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Autumn Leaves Quilt

You might remember my Autumn leaves WIP back in the middle of July. I was desperately trying to get it finished quickly, and typically I didn't quite hit my deadline and had to issue a present IOU! Once the deadline had passed, I slowed up a bit on it (again typically!) but finally finished the binding earlier this week:

This one was a present for the wonderful teacher at our lovely Montessori pre-school, Little Oaks, who has looked after Theo, Venetia and now lastly Maria throughout their years there. Sam was already too old for pre-school by the time we moved here, but the other three have all loved their time there, it has been an amazing place for children to explore and have fun and grow. I machine embroidered a little message on there:

But I'm feeling very sad about my words at the moment, because I heard just last week that the pre-school is, unfortunately, going to close at the end of September. Despite having a wonderful reputation, and consistent outstanding Inspections, they've really struggled with numbers over the last couple of years, and it's become unsustainable. Situated as they are, in a very rural area, there just haven't been enough local children to keep them going. I feel so lucky that my children were fortunate enough to be able to go there, but incredibly sad that other local children in the future are going to miss out.

It's a place, and a part of Theo, Venetia and Maria's childhoods, that we will always remember, and we will particularly remember the amazing teachers who worked there.


Friday, 15 August 2014

This Moment

Here's a link to Soulemama's moment, and here's mine...

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Take 5

1) It's 'Bake Off' night on TV again, and I haven't even watched the first one from last week yet, so no idea whether or not I'm going to be hooked! TV just doesn't seem to mix well with 4 children, Summer holidays, a smattering of sewing and making, and trying to keep up with a blog. But we're recording tonight's episode too and we've also been doing lots of baking again this week so we stay in the mood. Including more blackberry baking. I think this year is going to be an amazing year for blackberries, we're getting loads around the garden now. First up was meringues with cream and blackberries...

And then Theo made a recipe for Blackberry Crisp from the book Nigella Express:

It was so easy and delicious (as I find quite a lot of recipes from that book are) that we thought I'd really better share the recipe with you.

Blackberry Crisp

125g butter, melted
60g jumbo porridge oats
40g flaked almonds
30g sunflower seeds
70g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
75g soft light brown sugar
500g blackberries
2 tsp cornflour
50g vanilla sugar or caster sugar

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C/Gas Mark 6

Tip the blackberries into a wide, shallow baking dish, sprinkle the cornflour and vanilla/caster sugar over them and tumble them about to mix.

Combine the oats, almonds, seeds, flour, cinnamon and brown sugar in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then spoon the mixture over the blackberries to partially, but not completely, cover them.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Obviously you don't need to just stick to blackberries as your fruit. And the topping is easy to fiddle around with according to taste too - I think Theo added some pumpkin seeds and went easy on the cinnamon.

Sam is currently in the process of making Blackberry Icecream (with all the egg yolks left over from the meringues!) and our sights are next set on these Blackberry Pie Bars. We'll let you know how they turn out.

2) Some more gnome making has been going on as a present for someone. And this time Maria suggested painting one of them Rainbow colours. Not sure how we've never thought of this before!

I think some rainbow gnomes may now be required for our house!

3) I've bought my first proper Christmas present to stash away until December! I know it seems a long way off, but you might remember that my one and only New Year's Resolution this year was to be more organised for Christmas in 2014. I could really do with thinking a bit more about any Christmas making that might be going to happen, but at least this is a start. This is the present I've bought - for Theo (none of the children ever read the blog so I'm safe!):

It's in kit form, to be assembled, glued and then painted if desired. You might be able to see that there's a mechanism on the side that you turn to make the couple 'kiss'. I spotted the kit locally but I've now discovered that you can find them here on Amazon  - which is where the photo came from! There are lots of other moving Timber Kits there too. Spotting it locally felt like quite a coincidence since I'd only fairly recently come across, and loved, the work of Jane Ryan OPI on Facebook. She makes her own beautiful versions of this kind of thing and I was wondering how many subtle hints I could drop about wanting one of her models for myself for Christmas. So really, although I'm saying it's a present for Theo, it's actually probably more a present for me that I'm hoping Theo might make! Perhaps I'll get him one of the other models instead, maybe the dragon.

4) I haven't shared any thrifted finds with you recently. There haven't actually been all that many but here are the last few:

An old full length, flannelette nightgown. This was obviously lovingly home made by someone and I do always feel slightly bad chopping into something like this, but as you can see, I got over this and one of the arms came off almost immediately - Venetia is making something with it for me. She loved this fabric and wants to make a dress for herself out of it. It is quite pretty, but hard to do justice to it in a photo.

Next one is a wool jumper, in a lovely fresh green, I don't have a whole lot of green wool so this was great.

And then quite an unusual wool find - a really huge, bargain remnant.

It's as big as a blanket, but the kind of quality you'd use for making a suit. No idea what I'll do with this. Obviously using it bit by bit in patchwork is an option; making a suit with it is most definitely not an option! Anybody got any good ideas out there? Maybe some kind of stuffed toy could work well?

5) Slightly slow progress on the Elephant Quilt. Just a couple more blocks completed.

It feels like I should be getting them done more quickly, but then there's a lot of thread being sewn into these blocks for the quilting. No more, though, than so many quilters would routinely sew into their finished quilts, in fact probably less than some, and most would be having to manoeuvre a great, enormous quilt through their machines as they do it. It really makes me appreciate the time, effort and skill it must take them.


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Driftwood Photo Holder

I've got something very quick and simple for you tonight.

Those of you who stop by here regularly will probably know by now that we love the beach, and that I take lots of photos there too. Cue some totally unnecessary beach photos from earlier today  - sorry, the light was so beautiful, and I just can't resist padding this post out with a few, since we're on the subject anyway!

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I brought home a piece of driftwood I'd found on the beach, without any particular plan for it, but just because I loved the look, the shape and the feel of it...

And at the weekend I happened to be having a quick breakfast browse through Pinterest and came across these DIY Driftwood Decor ideas, one of which is an incredibly simple idea for a photo holder. My piece of driftwood seemed perfect for this, and what better place to display some of my beach photos than in a driftwood stand? Especially one gathered by us on one of our beach trips. So this morning I spent all of 5 minutes sawing a shallow groove in my piece.

That was all it took to turn it into this:

Works equally well with a landscape photo, and you can even put 2 photos in back to back so it's reversible according to your mood!

I'm almost embarrassed to be bothering to share it with you, it was so easy! But I really do love it and sometimes simple is best!


Monday, 11 August 2014

Miniature Making

After we finished reading the 'My Father's Dragon' trilogy, we moved on to 'The Borrowers'. I think Maria's finding it a little bit old for her, but she's very happy snuggling up with us and listening to it all the same. It's a book I loved when I was little, but not one I've read again since, so I'm really enjoying revisiting it. And I'm loving the creativity and inventiveness of the Borrowers, how they manage to repurpose so many odd bits and pieces from the big people 'upstairs'. I do vaguely remember enjoying this side of it when I first read it, but I'm appreciating it even more this time around, and picking up on so much more of the detail. And having the Borrowers' world in my head is making me slightly obsessed with miniature things at the moment. Although it's an obsession that has been brewing a little ever since our visit to the Contemporary Craft Festival back in June. I feel like I have a huge number of miniature ideas or half ideas popping around my head - but no time to actually do anything with them! But today, they popped around so much I had to let one out to play. 

I took a quick silhouette picture of Venetia...

And then tried to turn it into a postage stamp. Because, after all, often stamps are the ultimate mini pictures.

It's reverse applique, so the pink fabric has the silhouette cut out of it and then is stitched on to the white. I'm not completely happy with it - there are several bits that went a little wrong. And I didn't really have a plan for anything to do with it while I was making it, but as I got further into it a plan did pop into my head. And now I want to make it again, only better this time, and then use it in a mini quilt. Too many ideas, not enough time! But some of my miniature making ideas are ideas to make with the children, so I'm hoping they may get off the ground some time soon.

A child's world seems to be full of lots of lovely miniature things - doll's houses, fairy gardens, tiny model animals or tractors or cars, even teeny, tiny books - like the ones Arrietty reads in The Borrowers. So, miniature crafts seem perfect to do with children. That's my excuse anyway! Is it just me - are you a big is beautiful kind of person, or does miniature hold its appeal for lots of you out there?


Friday, 8 August 2014

This Moment

 Here's a link to Soulemama's moment and here's mine - one moment this week, but shown in a few photos...

{this moment}

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{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . . 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Making burgers with the children

Apologies to vegetarians, this is about meat! Please feel free to look away now. The making 'pork and apple burgers' grew into a big, experimental general burger making session and the children loved it so much that I felt it deserved a post of its own, albeit a fairly short one. Unfortunately I really wasn't expecting it to be quite such a hit - either the making or the eating - so I don't have lots of lovely photos. I have a few, generally fuzzy photos with little glimpses of a very messy kitchen in the background!

We gathered together a selection of meat - pork, lamb, turkey and beef, herbs - we had fresh parsley, mint, basil and oregano and some dried sage and thyme too, and some vegetables - grated apple and carrot, sweetcorn and tomato puree, as well as salt and pepper. I found it worked best to put the salt and pepper and even the herbs, veggies etc into small bowls so the children could help themselves without getting raw meat fingers all over salt/pepper mills etc.

And each of the children had their own bowl to create their own variations of burgers. There were quite a few combinations created, mostly fairly conventional - like lamb and mint, or pork and apple, but a few slightly more adventurous options too. My personal favourite was turkey, grated carrot and apple, parsley and salt and pepper. It was really delicious, especially with tomato slices in the bun.

And I'm sure it also helped that they all helped cook them on a quick, little BBQ immediately they'd been made.

It really was a perfect children's activity - it appealed to all of them, kept them occupied and making for quite some time and we had tea sorted at the end of it. Couldn't ask for more!