Thursday, 28 October 2010

Just flown in... share these cuties with you.

Based on Tana Ramsay's 'Hooting Hallowe'en Owls'  from Good Food magazine several years back, all you need is to:

  • Make some chocolate muffins or giant cupcakes (or buy when pushed for time).  I also made some ordinary sized fairy cakes - owlets for those with smaller appetites!
  • Cut off the tops, as if you were making butterfly cakes, then cut these in half for the 'tufts'.
  • Spread buttercream or your favourite icing on top of the cakes.
  • Put the tufts in place.
  • Squodge a circle of yellow/orange icing onto a Malteser (those tubes of ready-to-ice are ideal).
  • Place a mini- chocolate bean on top of the yellow/orange icing to complete each eye.
  • Place the eyes in front of the tufts, then complete with a jelly diamond or (in this case) a jelly drop for the beak
  • Stand back and say 'Awwww!'.
A perfect end-of half-term activity for bored children!  

I wonder what this wistful owl is thinking?

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Ooh, er, missus...

Bryan Ferry is on The One Show, right now!

But this is what is puzzling me - how come someone who seemed old enough to be my Dad when I was 15, now appears to be more or less the same age as me?

How do men do that?

What about the sleeves?

Those of you who read yesterday's post may well have been troubling yourselves about the fate of the sleeves from the jumpers I cut up!  Well, worry no longer, for here (some of them) are...

Elsewhere, the  postman brought a bit of excitement, with the arrival of these lovelies from Moo...

These new cards will be very useful at the Maltings Market on
November 6th, as my old lot have nearly run out.

And the stickers are fab!  I need to acquire some tissue paper for wrapping, then these and a bit of ribbon will be perfect to seal.

Also in the post came this package...

...Containing one kilogram of 'Aroma Beads' and two Christmas-sy fragrance oils (did I mention the C-word?) plus a freebie - Amaretto scented oil, with which Mr U-t-B is very much taken.

Some beads are, as I write, infusing with 'Christmas Spice' oil. Will let you know how the projects I have planned for them get on.

Here in Hampshire the sun is currently shining, so I am going to walk into town to do some errands. If one of my destinations still has in stock what I am keeping my fingers crossed for, I may have some exciting news later this week!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Reduce, reuse, recycle...

Today I have been busy with some jumpers and a cardigan.

The two woollen jumpers had holes, but for what I was doing this doesn't matter too much.  They had been washed in the machine at 50 degrees to shrink and felt them (this sorts out any unraveling from the holes too). 

27.10.10 PS.  I have found out today that not all 100% wool jumpers will shrink!  I have just had one refuse to become fodder for my next creation - maybe because it is a 'Machine Washable' jumper?

Each of them had a feature I wished to use intact in the finished articles.
Stripey jumper had a polo neck...

Cable knit had a couple of pockets...

The cardigan was cotton - knitted by me some years ago (over 20, I've now worked out!)  It had gradually got wider and wider and shorter and shorter, making it pretty much unwearable, but I couldn't part with it (this is a recurring theme with me) as I'd worked so hard on all that cable and lacy knitting! 

I am not (yet) nearly as wide as our dining room table!

Although I knew it would not be as straightforward as the felted jumpers, I really wanted to try and give it a new lease of life.
First I turned the items inside out and cut them apart along the side seams, then cut off the sleeves.  It was going to be important to leave the polo neck and shoulder seams of the stripey jumper intact.

Then I found the patterns I made last year when I did my first batch of these and cut out the pieces.  I like to cut hearts from the skinny bits that are left over - I'm sure I will get round to using them sometime soon!

Because the cotton cardi was 'holey' I decided to line it with some thin fleece fabric (one of those ultra cheap IKEA blankets).  I cut it out with an extra wide seam allowance to allow for a bit of unraveling.  

Before getting out the sewing machine, I did some embroidery and blanket stitched the top edge of the bottom back piece.
Then it was time to sew round the edges with the help of my trusty Singer.  I foolishly started with the cotton cardigan bits - big mistake!  Three broken needles later, I decided that the wool is easier to work with and got on with those instead.  It's not an easy job and there are parts which are too thick to be done with the machine (the bit where the two back pieces overlap), but eventually the woollen pieces were all sewn together.  

All that remained was to blanket stitch round the edge and then make an added embellishment for the pocket.

Here's the back view.  I'll add an oversized button and loop later on (forgot that detail!)

And the front...

Later on, fortified by some dinner (and perhaps a glass of wine?) I will turn my attention back to the cast aside cotton pair and see if I can find a way of making a success of them!

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Basingstoke Canal and other delights

Mr Used-to-Bees and I went for a walk along the Basingstoke Canal yesterday morning. It was quite early, almost frosty and so peaceful.  Nobody had yet been along the towpath - we know this because suspended in mid-air right across the path was this oak leak, caught on a single thread of spider's silk.

Even a wonky barbed-wire fence looks good on a dewy, sunshine-y morning.

Ditto the ricketty stile.

There were rosehips and holly berries in abundance.

 Season of mists...

I love this little chap who was fishing at the end of one garden...

And I love the old mangle in the garden of his home...

Later on we returned home for a mad rush at Sunday lunch for seven. 
Roast beef, Yorkshire puds plus assorted veg, followed by either
Limoncello Pannacotta with Summer Berry Sauce (served in the lovely Gisela Graham ramekins my sister gave me for my birthday) - possibly the easiest and fastest to make dessert in the world...

...or 'Between the Seasons Pudding'...

... so called as it was a mix of summer fruits from the freezer and apples and pears, and because it was meant to be crumble, but it didn't turn out very 'crumble-y' probably due the fact that I tried to ram too much mixture into each dish!  And this mistake after I'd completely incinerated the pudding I'd really planned on serving!  

A quick clear-up and then Mr U-t-B and I headed off in the car, Camden-bound, to attend a friend's  debut CD launch (for these are the circles in which we now move...) leaving Miss U-t-B at home with the lunch guests to carve pumpkins.  And what a success they made of them!  Look at these beauties...

Tears of happiness from Miss U-t-B's first attempt.

This snaggle-toothed specimen is one of our home grown pumpkins.

As is this one...

Master U-t-B's very talented girlfiend created this lovely scene...

 Whilst Master U-t-B made this 'alternative' carving. .  Tractor, giraffe and exclamatory flashes - it's a definite first in the history of pumpkin carving!

All these achieved with a set of three 'safe pumpkin carving tools' bought last year from Asda. They look like they are only up to carving a bit of blancmange, but actually do a great job, with no trips to casualty required! 

Meanwhile Mr U-t-B and I were at The London Irish Centre, at our friend Peter's album launch!  He is a very talented tin whistle  player (one time all-Ireland champion, no less), so we (and a large crowd of others) were treated to a reels, jigs, aires and laments aplenty - a real foot-tapping evening was had by all!  By the end of the evening, Peter had assembled pretty much a full ceilidh (can't believe I just spelt that correctly first time!) band - fiddles, banjo, flute, tin whistles and keyboard, and it was, as they say, great craic.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Every patch has a story

When I think back to my childhood, summertime weekends were spent either next to the Thames, picnicking on cold roast chicken, my Mum's empanadas (Argentine pasties) and lemon puddings, or at my Dad's cricket club, playing on the climbing frame, roaming in the woods and helping with the cricketers' teas (all in the vain hope that there'd be a French Fancy left after the men had had their fill!)

 Here's an early cricket club afternoon from when I was about one. My Mum must've taken the photo, as I am on her cousin Claire's knee.

I do wonder whether my Dad actually played in those shiny black shoes?!

By the time I was about eight, my Mum had begun a patchwork quilt to make use of all the fabric leftover from the dresses she used to make for my sister and I.  She would often take this to work on at the cricket club, after she'd finished the teas.  I can see her sitting in our orange stripey deckchair, with her special patchwork bag, filled with paper and fabric hexagons, thread, pins and needles and a bundle of completed 'flowers'. 

The quilt took my Mum ten years to complete (every stitch done by hand and king-size as it is!).  We got it out last weekend, and then spent time recalling what the different fabrics had been.

Here's my favourite flower. The fabrics were from one of my most loved dresses. It was an A-line, sleeveless dress, with a blue yoke and the stripey, polka dot and floral fabric for the rest.  It had lovely bead like buttons in the same vibrant cornflower blue that the flowers originally were.

I have such strong memories of this fabric that I always seem to be buying vintage fabrics that are similar.

The first and third of these were from 'Sal's Snippets', the second from Donna Flower.  Maybe one day I will find a remnant of the original...I can wish!

Before my Mum had finished her quilt my sister and I both caught the bug.  Big sister made a really beautiful quilt with a mix of remnants and bought fabrics, all very tastefully done and in smaller than usual hexagons and her trademark minute and even stitching.  Sadly I don't have a picture of it!

My first attempt was for a piece of school coursework and was rather rushed!  I made use of some flowers my Mum didn't want as well as making some of my own, hence the rather ill-advised mish-mash of colours.

Well, I was only about 14 !


The ditsy floral on the right was one of my favourite skirts.  I made it and wore it till it was worn through on the seat and faded beyond recognition!  I think it is still lurking in my fabric chest because I can't bear to chuck it!

The teddy bears were from the first skirt I ever attempted to make.  I never did finish it though!

Later I decided to use the machine for piecing a quilt.

Better colour choices this time!

Some of the same fabrics appear - I must have loved that purple stripes and shamrocks.

Amongst the squares I can see remains of  three dresses, two skirts, one pair of shorts and a blouse I made.

This must have been a fluke - the triangular pattern (flying geese is it called?) meeting at the corner.  I'm sure I didn't know one end of a tape measure from the other at that point!

All this looking at quilts has reminded me that I have two pieced tops ready to be quilted. (I made them to prevent my beloved trunk of fabric from being ejected from the house!) The perfect job for these chilly evenings!