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Friday, 28 August 2009

An Apple a Day...

Sadly it looks like it will be our last holiday at the Pressoir this year (or possibly second to last) as my parents will be putting it up for sale next year. The old cider pressior in Normandy was bought as a do-er upper, but due to finances and ill health never quite got properly done up. Having said that, despite the acro props holding up the wall in the bedroom and the lack of a bath, shower or any hot running water for that matter we have had some really lovely holidays over there in the last few years, especially since we have had the kids it has really come into it's own.

A windfall gift from the neighbours:

Monday, 24 August 2009

Sewing again

It has been absoloutely yonks since I've had time to get the sewing machine out what with the littlest one only taking half hour naps and everything (arrrggghh). So I was delighted recently to finally get the chance to do a quick mini project I have been meaning to do for months. This little bag is a present for the daughter of a friend of mine. Originally I had hoped to do one for her birthday, but that came and passed with no time to get it done, but I've now done one as a thank you present instead(along with a box of something yummy for her mum) for lending me all her old clothes to use for my little girl.

It's a pretty basic design, but I'm very pleased with how it turned out, especially as it only took about an hour to knock together once I'd finally got round to digging my sewing machine again. It was also a nifty bit of up-cycling, the denim coming from my old pair of maternity jeans. The rear side (which I unfortunatly forgot to photograph) has a jeans pocket on it (no sewing required - just strategic placing of the pattern when cutting it out).

Monday, 1 June 2009

Christmas all over again

For christmas last year I recieved a David Austin bare root rose called 'Young Lycidias' from my mum. Now the bush is finally in bloom and I have to say both the flowers and the scent are divine. A wonderful christmas present in June!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Simple tastes

I can't remember the last time I made a victoria sponge. Usually it ends up being fairy cakes and biscuits that I bake with the boy, but for some reason the other weekend I couldn't get the idea of making one of these out of my head. Luckily I had a friend coming over for Sunday lunch to give me the excuse to make one. I'd forgotten just how quick and easy they are to make (though it's a lot quicker if you actually have two sandwich tins unlike me). It's a basic recepie that you can find in pretty much every cook book with a baking section, but I'll repeat it here anyway:

Victoria Sponge

225g butter, very soft
225g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
225g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (if using a food processer)
3-4 tablespoons milk

2 x 20 cm sandwich tins, buttered and floured (this was where I fell down and had to bake 1/2 mixture twice, as for some strange I only have one sandwich tin - go figure)

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C, gas mark 4.

If using the food processor, put everything bar the milk in and whiz until it makes up smooth batter. Then add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse until the batter has a soft dropping consistency.

If not using a food processer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time and beat them in. Sieve in the flour and baking powder and fold in gently with a metal spoon.

Spread the mixture between the two sandwich tins and bake for about 25 minutes. The cake is done when it has a springy texture when pushed (gently) at the top and it has come away from the edges. Turn the cake out onto a cake rack to cool.

When the cake has completely cooled, spread with the jam of your choice, add some berries (in my case strawberries) then spread on some whipped cream and sandwich the two layers together. Finish off by sprinkling caster sugar over the top of the cake.

Best scoffed quickly - the cream won't keep very long.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Welcome to the Jungle

Well, more of a wood really, but my 3 year old decided that it was a jungle - just with ducks and ponies rather than monkies and tigers! The woods in question are Burnham Beeches not far from us. I don't know why, but in the 8 years that we've been living in this area this is the first time we've actually gone for a walk there. We've definately been missing out as the photos show. It is a lovely place for a leisurely weekend stroll with the kids.

Friday, 24 April 2009

First Bloom

After loosing my two pear trees to the builders last year I was keen to replace them with another fruit tree once we replanted the garden. As we only have a small patch we went for an apple on dwarfing root stock so it wouldn't overwhelm the garden like the pears did. I was delighted to see the first blossom arrive on the tree a few weeks ago. I'm hoping for a decent crop of apples come the autumn - there was only one on the tree last year but it was a very tasty one!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Rather them than me

Rather them than me
Originally uploaded by Cloth cat
The Royal Windsor Wheel has returned to Alexander Park earlier this year. Normally it doesn't appear until the school summer holidays, but this year it was up in time for Easter. Whilst walking through the park into town I caught sight of a couple of the engineers doing safety checks on the spokes - not a job I would fancy, but good to know it's being done. If you're planning a trip to Windsor any time I can reccomend the wheel as a great way to get a good view of the surrounding area.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Pram Quilt

Pram Quilt
Originally uploaded by Cloth cat
Making some progress on the quilt now. Have used a 'cheat' technique for the heart appliques which involves sewing two hearts right sides together then putting a slit in the backing one to turn it inside out, rather than having to carefully tuck the fabric under as you sew. The technique is described in the book 'Sew Pretty Homestyle' by Tonne Finnanger. Also in the book is the template for the rose embroidery. The book has some lovely ideas in it. Not sure how many of the actual projects I would ever do, but a lot of them have good ideas or templates such as the rose one which you can incorporate into your own work.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Pram Quilt

I don't know what the difference is between girls and boys, but for some reason I've been a lot more inclined to make things for my new baby girl than I am for my son - a chance to use all the pretty fabrics out there I guess and also I'm a lot more into sewing now than I was three years ago when my son was born.

Having seen the most gorgeous quilted foot muff in Mamma's & Pappas on a shopping trip about a month ago I decided that I'd have a go at making a pram quilt in a similar style. This is my first ever quilt, so it's probably a good idea to be starting small. So far I've managed to mess up slightly on the cutting out, but I'm just telling myself that it adds to the 'homespun' feel (ahem). Besides I didn't fancy wasting all that fabric. Here's the progress so far (note slightly wonky cutting out at the top end - oops):

I suspect I will end up making two of these - this first one will be a practise run and will be handy as a spare when the other one is in the wash. The two patterned fabrics are Cath Kidston from John Lewis and the plain fabrics are from a new find (well new to me) Lady Sew and Sew in Marlow - what with that and the Pin Cushion new Dedworth shop just opened round the corner from me I am now well sorted for local sewing suppliers!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Little Stitches

I bought the Amy Butlet book "Little Stitches for Little People" back in the autumn with the intention of working my way through several of the projects before the arrival of my baby in February, but somehow work and home life consipired against me and by the end of the year I had still not started a single one. After christmas once I'd finished work I had a bit more time on my hands before the baby arrived so I decided to tackle the 'jumper dress' projects from the book. I had in my stash a lovely lilac and pink Liberty fabric that I'd bought from the Happy Crafters destash shop and found a nice lilac chambray in John Lewis to go with it. I managed to make one or two mistakes along the way (due to my usual problem of not reading the pattern carefully enough), but generally given that it was first every clothing project, I was really happy with the way it turned out.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Big cook, little cook

Found a lovely mini rolling pin and wooden spoon in Kitchen Capers the other week that I just had to buy for my son. We have been spending a lot of time cooking together recently (was a great way to keep him occupied without me having to move around a lot whilst heavily pregnant) and he really loves it. Having bought the utensils I decided to make him a pinny to go with as his other one is permanently splattered with paint so not really suitable for cooking with. Found a cheap remnant of fabric at John Lewis to form the base of the pinny then made the pocket from a piece of Japanese fabric that I've had for ages, but haven't been able to work out what to do with. I'm quite pleased with the result. Unfortunately (as you can see from the picture) the little man wasn't too keen on modelling the finished article for me, but he was happy to wear it while we made orange and chocolate chip biscuits.

Monday, 23 February 2009

New Arrival(s)

I'm pleased to annouce the arrival at last of my new little bundle. Like her brother she was 6 days late in the end (boy do you feel about to burst by that point), but unlike him she had a very quick and relatively painless delivery (well ok not really that painless, but it went on for a lot less time so it was much more bearable). The first couple of nights were a bit of a nightmare as she decided she wanted to stay up and feed all night then sleep all day, but she's managing to sleep for 3-4 hr stretches through the night now which is a bit more bearable. Luckily she seems a very contented baby for the most part - doesn't cry much, but instead mews a bit like a cat! Major hurdle now is trying to balance all the time I need to spend with her feeding etc with trying not to leave out my very boisterous 34 month old son and keep him entertained and happy - talk about exhausting! I've been lucky to have my parents down this last week, so he's been showered with their attention, but now they've gone back home it'll be a different story.

On a slightly different tack, there has also been another new arrival in the area recently. When I went to the post office round the corner a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised (and delighted) to see that the betting shop opposite had now become a haberdashery/knitting shop. Previously I have had to hike all the way into Reading to get a decent selection of yarn, but now I have somewhere 5 mins round the corner from my house - talk about dangerous, especially with all the lovely baby patterns they have there!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Clearance Sale

Well with less than a month now until the baby arrives, I've decided to shut down my Etsy shop at the end of January (or possibly earlier if the baby is impatient). I'm not sure yet if this will be a temporary or a permanent thing. On the one hand being at home might give me more time to give it the attention it needs but on the other hand I'll be looking after two children instead of one this time (one of which no longer naps) so I probably won't have a minute to spare. Anyway before the shop shuts I will be having a clearance sale to get rid of the current stock - all items will be reduced by 25% or more so if there's anything you fancy the look of, buy it now before it's gone for good: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5161553

Friday, 2 January 2009


Well okay. So maybe I should have made a new years resoloution to do something with my existing fabric stash and not buy any more until I have made a dent in the pile.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

New Year, No Resoloutions

Happy new year to you all. As you can probably see this blog has been desperately neglected this past year what with various things going on (building work on the house, panic stations at work following a poor inspection and general running round after a two year old). I had contemplated making it a new year resoloution to do better this year, but on reflection I think that is a hiding to nothing. I have a new baby on the way at the beginning of February (at least I hope it will be then - I'm looking forward to having a month of peace off work before it arrives!) and once that arrives I'm likely to be stretched for time, though at least I won't have to be going into work every day. Anyway I have decided to do away with resoloutions for this year and just take things as they come - though hopefully over the next few weeks while I am off pre-baby and the munchkin is still in nursery I will have a bit of time to get done all the craft things I've been wanting to do but haven't had the time, but I know in reality the weeks will fly by and before I know it I'll be up all night feeding and all day changing nappies, so I'll just see what I can do in the time and even if that's only one thing then I'll be happy with that.

This pregnancy has been slightly frustrating in that when I went for the 21 week scan, they couldn't see the sex of the baby because the cord was in the way. I know some people like the idea of a suprise, but me I'm a planner. Having a little boy already I'm desperate to know if I should be getting all his old clothes down from the loft and washing them ready for boy number 2 or if I should be hitting the January sales with a vengance for some pretty girly clothes. Not to mention all the fabric I'd love to be buying to make a little quilt or some dresses or something while I still have time - frustrating!!!! I have another scan next week to check on a low lying placenta, so I've all my fingers crossed they'll be able to tell me then so I can make a start on making something or other. What do you think I can get done in three weeks?